Federal Court Motion Denied: Judge Rejects Trump’s Bid to Transfer Stormy Daniels Hush-Money Case

Former President Donald Trump’s attempt to move his criminal case, involving alleged hush-money payments, from a New York state court to a federal court has been rejected.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein issued the ruling on Wednesday, stating that Trump did not provide sufficient evidence to justify a change in jurisdiction for the case.

The matter in question revolves around a personal aspect of Trump’s life, unrelated to his presidential duties. It involves an alleged campaign finance violation where Trump purportedly used campaign funds to secure silence from adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Hellerstein, in his 25-page ruling, stated, “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was purely a personal item of the President—a cover-up of an embarrassing event.”

Addressing the allegations, Hellerstein argued that the alleged misconduct central to Trump’s charges—the reimbursement of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as part of a scheme to suppress affair allegations during his first campaign—did not occur in his capacity as president. The judge maintained that the evidence strongly supports the claim that the money Cohen received was indeed repayment for a hush-money transaction.

Trump, affiliated with the Republican party, had previously pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records in order to conceal Cohen’s reimbursements. These payments were connected to the $130,000 given to Daniels, who claims to have had a past extramarital encounter with Trump.

Despite the allegations, Trump has consistently denied any intimate relationships with Daniels or Playboy model Karen McDougal, who received $150,000 for the rights to her story about an alleged affair. Trump’s lawyers argue that the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any covert operation.

In May, Trump’s legal team sought to have the federal court take over the hush-money case, claiming that a fair trial was not possible in a state court due to certain alleged actions occurring during his presidency. The proposed shift to federal court would have resulted in a jury pool with more political diversity, including individuals from Manhattan and surrounding suburbs where Trump has stronger support.

However, Hellerstein rejected Trump’s arguments, dismissing the notion that the case should be moved to federal court based on alleged political motivations and state hostility. The judge stated that there was no reason to doubt the fairness of the New York judicial system and its ability to provide Trump with equal justice under the law.

As a result of this decision, Trump is likely to face trial in a Manhattan state court in early spring, potentially coinciding with the 2024 presidential primary season.