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A federal judge Wednesday denied former President Donald Trump’s effort to move his New York State “hush money” criminal case to federal jurisdiction.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote in his ruling that he didn’t believe payments made to a former Trump attorney — which are at the center of the 34 New York State felony counts of falsification of business records — were tied to Trump’s service as president.

“Trump has failed to show that the conduct charged by the indictment is for or relating to any act performed by or for the President under color of the official acts of a President,” Hellerstein wrote. “Trump also has failed to show that he has a colorable federal defense to the indictment.”

Lawyers for Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had argued over whether reimbursements to Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, were made as official acts tied to Trump’s presidency. Trump’s lawyers said the case belongs in federal court — not the state court where Bragg’s prosecutors typically work — because the payments were made while Trump was president.

Trump entered a not guilty plea on April 4 in the case, which revolves around a series of transactions between Trump and Cohen. 

Manhattan prosecutors say the payments were obscured reimbursements for a “hush money” payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election.

Attorneys for Trump said he is immune from state prosecution for acts “performed when carrying out his federal duties.” 

A spokesperson for Trump’s presidential campaign criticized the decision in a statement to CBS News, and accused Bragg, a Democrat, of targeting the Republican out of political animus.

“They’re throwing everything they can at President Trump to prevent his re-election, because deep down, they know he’s going to win,” the spokesperson said. “This case belongs in a federal court and we will continue to pursue all legal avenues to move it there.”

The push to move the case has gone forward as attorneys for Trump have also sought a new state court judge. They asked in a June 1 filing that New York Judge Juan Merchan recuse himself. 

Last year, Merchan presided over the trial of two Trump Organization companies that were found guilty of 17 counts related to criminal tax evasion. Trump’s motion accuses Merchan of encouraging the prosecution’s key witness in that case, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, to testify against the companies. It also notes that Merchan’s daughter has worked for a Democratic consulting firm, and that he made a pair of donations — totaling $35 — to Democratic groups during the 2020 election cycle.

Bragg’s office opposes the recusal and Merchan has not announced a decision.

Hellerstein’s decision came the day after Trump announced that he received a letter from the Justice Department identifying him as a target in another criminal investigation, indicating he may soon be indicted for a third time. Trump said he was given the opportunity to testify before a federal grand jury in that probe, an investigation into allegations Trump and his allies sought to undermine the 2020 presidential election following Trump’s defeat.

That investigation is being overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, who is also leading a federal case in which Trump is charged with 37 felony counts related to alleged “willful retention” of national security information after Trump left the White House.

Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, claiming Smith is engaged in a “witch hunt” and criticized the investigations as a “complete and total political weaponization of law enforcement.”

He has made similar allegations against Bragg and Fulton County, Georgia district attorney Fani Willis, who has indicated that Trump and some of his allies may soon be charged in connection with their alleged efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election.