Trump drops appeal to move Manhattan hush money trial to federal court

Former President Donald Trump is abandoning his effort to move the so-called hush money trial from New York state court to federal court.

In a brief filing submitted to a New York-based appeals court, Trump said he was no longer appealing a lower-court ruling that rejected his bid to get the case transferred to federal court. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal the reimbursement of hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The move represents a notable reversal from the former president, who has mounted various novel legal arguments in his attempts to avoid prosecution in his criminal cases. Trump had argued in the New York case that the charges are tied to his duties as president, and he is similarly asking a federal judge in Washington, DC, to toss out the election subversion case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, saying the charges in that case are also covered by presidential immunity.

In July, US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein denied Trump’s request to move the New York case to federal court, ruling that the payments to Daniels and alleged subsequent falsification of business records were not related to Trump’s presidential duties.

“The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely a personal item of the President – a cover-up of an embarrassing event. Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts,” the judge wrote. “Whatever the standard, and whether it is high or low, Trump fails to satisfy it.”

The judge also rejected Trump’s argument that he should have immunity given his position as president at the time he signed reimbursement checks to Michael Cohen, his then-personal attorney who facilitated the hush money payment to Daniels.

In September, Trump’s attorneys told the state judge overseeing the Fulton County election interference case that they will not try to move his prosecution in that case to federal court, a move that was largely expected in part because several of his co-defendants had already mounted such efforts.

“This decision is based on his well-founded confidence that this Honorable Court intends to fully and completely protect his constitutional right to a fair trial and guarantee him due process of law throughout the prosecution of his case in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia,” Trump attorney Steven Sadow said in a filing to that court.

The New York state trial is slated to begin in March.

This story has been updated with additional details Tuesday.

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