On Monday, June 10, 2024, Newsweek reported that senior CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said Judge Juan Merchan should have recused himself from the Donald Trump hush money trial due to donations he made to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Judge Merchan presided over the trial, where a Manhattan jury found former President Trump guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Throughout the proceedings, Trump and his supporters had criticized Merchan’s impartiality. It was later revealed that Merchan made three donations totaling $35 to ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising site, including $10 marked for “Stop Republicans.”

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if these donations warranted grounds for Trump to appeal the verdict, Honig stated that Merchan “absolutely should have recused himself” and removed himself from the case. Honig noted that while the amount donated was small, judges are prohibited from making any political contributions. He also questioned whether people would feel the same if Merchan had instead donated to Trump.

However, Honig noted that Merchan’s actions alone may not meet the standard for a case reversal. In 2023, a complaint against Merchan over the Biden donation was dismissed by New York’s judicial conduct commission. The commission had cautioned Merchan but said he could remain on the case if he chose. Honig was also critical of the commission’s two-page opinion, saying it gave little meaningful justification for their decision beyond the contributions being small and made over two years prior.

When asked about the commission’s thinking, Honig said “They basically say, ‘Well, it was a small enough amount, and it was more than two years ago.’ To which I would say, ‘Who cares? How does that matter?'”



Source: Newsweek