New York: Two federal judges handed legal losses to Donald Trump on Wednesday - one rejecting the former president's bid to move from state to federal court his upcoming criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records, and the other denying a request for a retrial in a civil sexual assault case Trump lost in May.
In the criminal records case, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein said Trump did not sufficiently prove that his alleged involvement in 2016 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, which stretched into Trump's presidency, was related to his official role.
Those payments are the basis for a 34-count state court indictment brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that alleges Trump tried to cover up the true nature of reimbursements to his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
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Hellerstein also ruled that Trump's lawyers failed to show that a transfer to a federal venue, which Trump's attorneys likely saw as more favorable to their side, was necessary. The lawyers had argued that their defense relates to federal campaign finance laws and presidential immunity.
Trump would have needed to prove both elements - a considerable tie to his official duties and a defense based on federal law - to have the case removed to a federal court, Hellerstein wrote. A trial date in the case in state court has been set for March 25.
Another federal court judge in Manhattan rejected Trump's request for a new trial against author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll or an adjustment of damages a jury awarded in her case. The ruling paves the way for Carroll to collect a $5 million judgment for defamation and battery caused by sexual abuse if the verdict stands on appeal.
In a civil lawsuit, Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades ago during an unexpected encounter, saying she felt shame and told no one other than two friends, who testified at the trial.
At the time of the alleged assault, Carroll hosted a TV show and Trump was a real estate tycoon with celebrity status.
A jury found Trump liable for discrediting Carroll by trashing her on social media last year, repeating assertions that Carroll was lying about an encounter with him in the mid-1990s. He has also tried to paint Carroll as mentally unstable. The jury also found Trump had sexually abused Carroll.
"There is no basis for disturbing the jury's sexual assault damages," U.S. District Court Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in the ruling. "And Mr. Trump's arguments with respect to the defamation damages are no stronger."
Trump is also appealing the verdict, which is a separate legal process.
Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, praised the decision. Another civil lawsuit filed by Carroll against Trump is scheduled for trial in January. That lawsuit stems from derogatory comments Trump made about her in 2019, while he was in office, after Carroll first accused him of the long-ago assault.