New York judge denies request for recusal from Trump criminal case

New York judge denies request for recusal from Trump criminal case

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A New York judge has denied a motion for his recusal from former President Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal case.

In seeking Judge Juan Merchan’s recusal, attorneys for Trump cited Merchan’s involvement in a 2022 trial in which Trump’s company was convicted of crimes. They also cited work done by Merchan’s daughter for a Democratic consulting firm and demanded he explain donations totaling $35 to Democratic causes during the 2020 election cycle.

Merchan wrote in a ruling made public Monday that Trump’s team “failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds.” 

“The speculative and hypothetical scenarios offered by [Trump] fall well short of the legal standard,” Merchan wrote, in response to the claim that his daughter’s employment for a company called Authentic Campaigns means she “stands to financially benefit from decisions this court makes in this case.”

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to comment, as did Trump attorney Susan Necheles. Bragg’s office had opposed recusal.

Trump entered a not guilty plea on April 4 in the case, which revolves around a series of transactions between Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen. Prosecutors say they were obscured reimbursements for a “hush money” payment made days before the 2016 presidential election to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Trump’s attorneys had also sought a different judge by removing the case to federal court — arguing the allegations in the case involved Trump’s service as president. A federal judge remanded the case to state court on July 19. 

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote in that ruling that he didn’t believe the payments to Cohen were tied to Trump’s work in office. 

“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.”

Merchan’s decision comes as Trump is potentially nearing a fourth criminal indictment in just over five months. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has indicated a grand jury may consider charges in connection with her office’s investigation into alleged efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.

Two of the cases against Trump involve allegations of federal felonies brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump was charged Aug. 1 by Smith’s office with four federal felonies related to broader alleged efforts to overturn the national election outcome. He entered a not guilty plea in that case.

On June 9, Trump was charged by Smith’s office with 37 federal felonies related to his alleged “willful retention” of national security information, and three more charges were later added. He has entered a not guilty plea in that case.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all the cases, and accused every prosecutor who’s charged him with pursuing him for political gain.

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