President Trump’s request to bring Attorney General Alvin Bragg’s criminal case against him to federal court points to a legal battle that could end up in the Supreme Court. At the heart of the strategy is an unprecedented question: where should a former president be tried?
The answer to that question, argue Mr. Trump’s attorneys — Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina — cannot fall within the jurisdiction where Mr. Bragg is the chief law enforcement officer.
The federal court filing supports federal jurisdiction because the activities at issue — Mr. Trump writing checks to his former attorney Michael Cohen in 2017 — occurred when he was the commander in chief and because the alleged violations Federal campaign touch law, in addition to any related state taxes.
“This case is unprecedented in the history of our nation,” argue Trump’s attorneys. “Never before has a local elected prosecutor prosecuted a defendant for either conduct that occurred entirely during the defendant’s term in office as the President of the United States or for conduct relating to federal campaign tax laws.”
The federal court-martial motion seeks to move Mr. Trump’s case to the Southern District of New York. It calls Mr. Bragg’s efforts to criminalize misdemeanors by linking them to federal campaign violations as a “novel theory.” The document states, “There has never been a prosecution under New York State law for an alleged violation of electoral law in connection with a federal election.”
Federal law requires that a prosecution brought in a state court against an “official” of the United States, if the charge relates to “any act under the color of such office,” “must be referred by them to the United States District Court “. Mr. Trump’s team notes that some of the checks in question were signed in the Oval Office and meet this requirement.
Arguing that the entire case is federal, Mr. Trump writes that his “decision to hire Michael Cohen as his personal counsel arose out of his duties as President and therefore results in a federal defense of the prosecution in this case.” They also invoke the doctrine of first refusal, which means the federal elements of the case should take precedence over the state ones.
Mr Trump’s attorneys also offer a more exotic argument for deportation in federal court, alleging that prosecutors are “politically motivated” and “were brought up because a local politician – here District Attorney Alvin Bragg – violated President Trump’s actions and policies.” as President, The United States disapproved.” In other words, it’s a witch hunt.
The upshot of this allegation is the conclusion that federal courts have “protective jurisdiction” over this case. That line of reasoning is untested, however, as the attorneys who offer it admit that the “Supreme Court has never definitively ruled” whether federal courts can intervene “in cases of state hostility toward the federal official.”
However, Mr. Trump is asking Southern District attorneys to look into Mesa v. California, a 1989 Supreme Court case. This case examined whether postal workers who committed traffic violations on the job acted under the “color of the office”. and could therefore be brought before federal court. It held they couldn’t.
In a consensus, Judge William Brennan recalled, “The days of widespread opposition by state and local government agencies to laws passed by Congress and to decisions by this court in the areas of school suspension and voting rights are not so far away that we should not be aware of the possibility.” harassment of federal agents by local law enforcement.”
“Such harassment,” Judge Brennan said, “could well take the form of unjustified criminal prosecution.” The same distance law that Mr. Trump is invoking, the judiciary argued, “might well have been intended to pass in such unfortunate and extraordinary circumstances.” are valid.”