On Saturday, June 3, 2023, The Guardian reported that lawyers representing Donald Trump have requested the recusal of Judge Juan Manuel Merchan from the ex-president’s criminal trial in New York. They argue that the judge’s alleged bias and potential conflict of interest stem from his daughter’s involvement with prominent Democrats.

During the month of April, Donald Trump entered a plea of not guilty to 34 felony charges involving the falsification of business records. These charges emerged from Trump’s payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who claimed an affair with him, an accusation he vehemently denies. This payment took place just before the 2016 election.

Following his arraignment, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction, referring to Judge Merchan as a “Trump-hating judge” who belongs to a family of individuals who hold negative views towards him. According to Trump’s legal team, Judge Merchan, who holds a reputable position in the Manhattan criminal court, allegedly exhibited bias in two other cases. They claim that he interfered in plea negotiations involving Trump’s longtime finance chief, compelling him to testify against Trump’s company in exchange for a relatively short five-month sentence.

Additionally, Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche have requested an explanation from Judge Merchan regarding three donations totaling $35 that were made in his name to Democratic causes in 2020. According to federal records, these donations include $15 towards Joe Biden’s campaign against Trump. Such contributions are typically prohibited under court rules. Despite these concerns raised, Judge Merchan has not provided any response to inquiries regarding the donations.

Moreover, in a report by The New York Timesit stated that Justice Merchan’s daughter,  is a partner and the chief operating officer of Authentic Campaigns, a Democratic consulting firm that did work for President Biden’s 2020 campaign. Trump’s counsel said, “stands to benefit financially from decisions Judge Merchan may make in this case.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Susan R. Necheles and Todd W. Blanche noted that “President Trump, like all Americans, is entitled under the Constitution to an impartial judge and legal process.” Adding, “Trump’s criminal case is “historic and it is important that the people of the state of New York and this nation have confidence that the jurist who presides over it is impartial.”

The ongoing hush-money case is currently being heard in state court, but Trump’s legal team is making efforts to transfer it to federal court, a move that would result in Judge Merchan’s removal. A hearing is scheduled for 27 June before a federal judge will address this matter.

Despite facing criticism from the former president himself, as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and others, Judge Merchan has demonstrated a respectful and accommodating demeanor. He has refrained from issuing a gag order and has emphasized his commitment to ensuring that Trump is afforded every possible opportunity to advance his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

 

Source: The Guardian