Trump Seeks Recusal of Judge in Federal Elections Case

Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Monday asked the federal judge overseeing his looming trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election to recuse herself, claiming that she has shown a bias against Mr. Trump in public statements made from the bench in other cases.

The recusal motion was a risky gambit by Mr. Trump’s legal team given that the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, will have the initial say about whether or not to grant it. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have tried this strategy before, attempting — and failing — to have the judge overseeing his state felony trial in Manhattan step aside.

In a motion filed in Federal District Court in Washington, John F. Lauro, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, cited statements Judge Chutkan had made about the former president at hearings for two defendants facing sentencing for crimes they committed at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

At one of the hearings, in October 2022, Judge Chutkan told the defendant, Christine Priola, a former occupational therapist in the Cleveland school system, that the people who “mobbed” the Capitol on Jan. 6 showed “blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.”

While Mr. Lauro made sure to note in his nine-page motion that he was asking “respectfully” for Judge Chutkan to step aside, seeking to disqualify a jurist from a case — especially one as prominent as this one — is an aggressive move that can damage relations between a lawyer and the bench.

Mr. Lauro and Judge Chutkan have already sparred in open court, most recently last month when she set the case for trial in early March. Twice during the scheduling hearing, Judge Chutkan asked Mr. Lauro to “take the temperature down” after he attacked the prosecutors in the case.

Those prosecutors will now get to respond to Mr. Lauro’s request, and ultimately Judge Chutkan will decide whether to remain on the case. Decisions about recusal motions are generally not subject to an immediate appeal, but Mr. Trump’s legal team could at least in theory seek to challenge a denial of the request to an appellate court.

In May, when Mr. Trump’s lawyers in New York sought to remove Justice Juan M. Merchan from his case involving hush money payments to a porn actress, they argued, among other things, that the judge had donated $15 to Mr. Trump’s opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and that his daughter helps to run a digital marketing agency that works with Democratic candidates and stood to benefit financially from decisions he made.

But Justice Merchan dismissed the arguments in a terse ruling in which he wrote that his impartiality could not “reasonably be questioned” based on “de minimus political contributions made more than two years ago” or his daughter’s interests.

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *