Recusal Redux: Trump's Lawyers Renew Effort to Remove Judge in Hush Money Case Before Trial

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Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is pushing for the recusal of Judge Juan Merchan from the New York hush-money trial, citing conflicts of interest due to his daughter’s political connections. 

Loren Merchan, the judge’s daughter, is president of Authentic Campaigns, a firm with major Democratic clients like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Senate Majority PAC. Schiff’s campaign raised $20 million based on Trump’s indictment, and the Senate Majority PAC received $73.6 million in donations after touting Trump’s indictment. 

On Monday, in a letter addressed to Judge Merchan, Trump’s lawyers highlighted that Authentic Campaigns was also linked to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, arguing that the connections pose an “unacceptable risk” that could unduly influence Merchan’s conduct. Trump’s attorneys also point to recent actions, such as a gag order against Trump, as further evidence of bias, along with statements made by Judge Merchan in the media last month, that the lawyers wrote “appear to be extrajudicial.” 

The letter also raises concerns about Merchan’s use of the Office of Court Administration to address an issue related to his daughter’s account.

In the letter, made public on Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers request permission to file a motion in support of their arguments, along with a briefing and evidence. The letter was dated on the same day that Merchan broadened a partial gag order following Trump’s criticism of his daughter’s political roles and conflicts of interest in the case made on Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social. 

In his four-page ruling Merchan wrote that Trump’s words on social media constitute an “attack” and that him speaking would bring about worry for anyone involved with the trial, and their loved ones.

The ruling says,

The average observer, must now, after hearing Defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well. 

Trump’s legal team argues that the expanded gag order “restricts his ability to engage in protected campaign speech”

This latest move follows a previous attempt, by Trump’s lawyers to have Judge Merchan recuse himself due to conflicts related to his daughter’s employment. In August, Merchan rejected Trump’s first recusal motion asserting his ability to remain fair and impartial despite his daughter’s role at Authentic Campaigns.

The Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office responded on Tuesday stating the opinion that Trump “has identified no changed circumstances” since Merchan’s previous order denying Trump’s motion seeking the judge to recuse himself from the case.

The DA’s office wrote:

There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this Court’s family member, let alone this Court.

The trial, which involves 34 felony counts related to alleged hush money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign, is scheduled to begin on April 15. 

Judge’s Daughter Linked to Democrats Raising 93 Million, as Trump Trial Recusal Calls Intensify

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