Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday moved to block former President Donald Trump’s attempt to persuade a federal court to take over a state criminal case in which he is charged with falsifying business records prior to the 2016 election.
In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Bragg argued that Trump is not entitled to the change in venue because he is not a federal officer. Lawyers for Trump have previously requested to move the case out of New York state court.
Bragg also argued that Trump was not a federal officer at the time of the accused crimes, which involve a hush money payment to a porn star before Trump, a Republican, was elected president in November 2016.
Trump pleaded not guilty in state court in Manhattan last month to 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal reimbursements to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to stay quiet about an alleged sexual liaison, which Trump denies.
Prosecutors say Trump falsified records related to reimbursing Cohen in part to cover up the fact that the payment to Daniels exceeded federal campaign contribution limits.
“Defendant was charged by a New York county grand jury with New York crimes for falsifying the business records of private New York enterprises while reimbursing his personal lawyer for a pre-election expenditure,” Bragg said in the filing. “He does not plausibly meet the required elements to justify removal to federal court.”
Earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers argued that the federal court had jurisdiction because the charges had to do with conduct that took place while he was president, saying the case was based on checks allegedly written to Cohen by Trump in 2017, while Trump was president. They denied that the checks and related records were false records.
The high-profile case, in which Trump became the first sitting or former president to be charged criminally, comes as the Republican primary for the 2024 election heats up.
Trump’s criminal trial is scheduled for March 25, 2024, meaning he will be on trial as his campaign for president is in full swing.
Trump, who lost the 2020 election to Democratic President Joe Biden, is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for 2024.