Trump Appeals Decision That Keeps His Criminal Case in New York State Court

Trump Appeals Decision That Keeps His Criminal Case in New York State Court
Former US president and 2024 Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Republican Party of Iowa's 2023 Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on July 28, 2023. (Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has requested a federal appeals court to reverse a federal judge’s recent decision in his pending New York state criminal case.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein last week rejected Mr. Trump’s request to have his case transferred to federal court, where his lawyers could argue Mr. Trump was immune from prosecution.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers on July 28 filed a notice of appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in an effort to reverse Judge Hellerstein’s decision.

The case concerns the indictment of Mr. Trump in late March on 34 felony counts (pdf) alleging that he created false business records to hide alleged reimbursement of hush-money payments that were made by Mr. Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen.

Mr. Trump pleaded not guilty to the state criminal charges in April and has said that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office’s charges against him are politically motivated.

It marked the first time a former president has been charged with a crime. A trial in the case has been scheduled to start in late March 2024.

U.S. law allows criminal prosecutions to be moved from state to federal court if they involve actions taken by federal government officials as part of their official duties, but Judge Hellerstein ruled that the case involved a personal matter and not presidential duties.

In seeking to try the case tried in federal court, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of his alleged conduct amounted to official presidential duties because it occurred in 2017 while he was president, including checks he purportedly wrote while sitting in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump’s appeal notice came at the end of a busy week of legal action. On July 27, he was indicted on new criminal charges in a separate case in federal court in Florida.

The case, which dealt Mr. Trump nearly three dozen counts in June, involves allegations that the former president illegally retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left office.

Prosecutors on July 27 further alleged that Mr. Trump and two co-defendants attempted to destroy Mar-a-Lago video surveillance footage that had captured people moving the boxes containing the classified documents.

34 Felony Counts

The criminal case against Mr. Trump in New York state court concerns alleged non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed before the 2016 presidential election by adult entertainment performer Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford; former Playboy model Karen McDougal; and Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at the Trump Tower.

Ms. Clifford was paid $130,000 to sign an NDA over an alleged one-night affair she had with Trump in 2006. The NDA was facilitated by Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Trump has consistently denied the affair ever took place. He also previously said on TruthSocial that it was a “totally legal $130,000 NDA.”

Meanwhile, the various payments made from The Trump Organization to Mr. Cohen had been recorded as being for legal services. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued these payments to Mr. Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and were not part of any cover-up.

Mr. Cohen initially told media outlets in February 2018 that he paid the funds out of his own pocket, but he later reversed this account in his guilty plea, claiming to have done so at Mr. Trump’s direction and that The Trump Organization reimbursed him through routine legal expenses.

Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, and previously called the payment part of a monthly retainer given to Mr. Cohen and said the lawyer “entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties.”

Gary Bai and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times