NATIONAL NEWS

Lawyer: Trump seeking to move criminal case to federal court

May 4, 2023, 8:16 AM | Updated: 11:36 am

NEW YORK (AP) — historic indictment was brought.

Such a move, while rare, would have significant advantages for Trump, including a broader, more politically diverse jury pool that’s more likely to include suburban Republicans. In state court in Manhattan, juries are drawn only from that borough, where voters have heavily favored his Democratic rivals.

“This effort is extremely unlikely to succeed,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School. “It’s not even clear that this would be a particularly effective delay tactic.”

Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, raised the prospect of a move to federal court during a state court hearing Thursday where a judge indicated he would put limits on Trump’s access to certain evidence, as prosecutors had requested, but wouldn’t issue a gag order or bar him from speaking publicly about the case.

Blanche told the state court judge that the defense team plans to file a motion Thursday asking to transfer the case from state court to federal court. He did not give a reason and did not comment to reporters as he left court.

Trump’s lawyers face a Thursday deadline to file paperwork listing their grounds for moving the case — 30 days after the April 4 state court arraignment where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

A federal judge would then have to rule on whether the case can be moved. Such requests are more common in civil lawsuits and are rarely granted in criminal cases. While that process plays out, the case will proceed in state court and all pretrial deadlines will remain in effect.

Prosecutors didn’t address the impending request during Thursday’s hearing. A message seeking comment was left with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office.

“It is possible to remove a state prosecution to federal court but the reasons for doing so are narrow and none seem to apply in this case,” Roiphe, a former Manhattan prosecutor, said.

Trump’s charges, the first brought against a former president, are related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to bury allegations of extramarital sexual encounters.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan previously investigated those arrangements and only charged one person: Trump’s former lawyer and fixer key witness in the state case against Trump.

Trump, a Republican, has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Earlier in the hearing Thursday, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan sought to broker a compromise between Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors, who raised concerns that he would use evidence obtained in the pretrial discovery process to attack witnesses and other people involved in the case, as he has in the past.

The judge, a target of Trump’s social media ire in the wake of his indictment, did not rule on the prosecution’s request for what’s known as a protective order. But he suggested he wants to balance the sanctity of the case, the safety of people involved, and Trump’s free speech rights.

“Obviously, Mr. Trump is different. It would be foolish for me to say he’s not. He’s the former president of the United States and he’s running again,” Merchan said.

The judge said Trump’s fame and megaphone make him different from other criminal defendants, but “with that comes responsibility that his words, especially when used in the form of rhetoric, can have consequences.”

Blanche said Trump wasn’t seeking to put evidence on social media nor was he objecting to a prosecution request, based in part on safety concerns, to keep identifying information about district attorney’s office employees secret until the trial starts.

Once he rules, Merchan said, he will hold a hybrid conference — lawyers in court, Trump appearing by video — where he will apprise him of the dos and don’ts of his impending order.

Merchan asked Trump’s lawyers and the prosecution to confer and agree on a trial date in either February or March 2024. Barring removal to federal court, that could land Trump, who’s making a comeback run for the White House, in court during next year’s primaries.

William Dow III, a Connecticut attorney for more than 50 years, said he had never heard of a state criminal case being removed to federal court. He called such a move a delaying ploy.

“It’s interesting that sometimes people who want to run away from their problems take any avenue that’s available, whether it’s accurate or not. I think this (Trump’s case) is subject to that interpretation,” said Dow, whose clients have included former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland in a political corruption case that forced him to resign in 2004.

___

Associated Press reporter Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/

National News

FILE - Former NFL football quarterback Brett Favre speaks with reporters prior to his induction to ...

Associated Press

A Mississippi judge removes 1 of Brett Favre’s lawyers in a civil case over misspent welfare money

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi judge has removed one of the attorneys representing retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre in a state civil lawsuit that seeks to recover welfare money that was supposed to help some of the poorest residents in the U.S. but went to projects pushed by wealthy and well-connected people. Favre is […]

45 minutes ago

FILE - Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference at the Federal Res...

Associated Press

Powell says Federal Reserve is more confident inflation is slowing to its target

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chair Jerome Powell said Monday that the Federal Reserve is becoming more convinced that inflation is headed back to its 2% target and said the Fed would cut rates before the pace of price increases actually reached that point. “We’ve had three better readings, and if you average them, that’s a pretty […]

51 minutes ago

FILE - Herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland, Maine, July 8, 2015. Several commercia...

Associated Press

New England fishermen sentenced in complex herring fraud case

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Several commercial fishermen in New England have been sentenced in a fraud scheme that centered on a critically important species of bait fish and that prosecutors described as complex and wide-ranging. The fishermen were sentenced for “knowingly subverting commercial fishing reporting requirements” in a scheme involving Atlantic herring, prosecutors said in […]

1 hour ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at a campaign e...

Associated Press

What to know about the attempt on Trump’s life and its aftermath

The FBI is still trying to determine a motive behind Saturday’s attempt to assassinate former President Donald Trump, while the tone of this week’s Republican convention in Milwaukee likely will be dominated by the violence. A former fire chief who was killed at Trump’s Pennsylvania rally is being remembered as a “man of conviction.” The […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Mechanical issues prompt 2 Delta Air Lines flights to divert, return to airport

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two Delta Air Lines flights were diverted over the weekend because of mechanical issues, the FAA said Monday. Delta flight 927, en route from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Atlanta, was diverted to St. Louis shortly before noon Saturday because of an issue with cabin pressure, the airline said in a statement. […]

3 hours ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

4 hours ago

Lawyer: Trump seeking to move criminal case to federal court