Trump's Legal Team Calls for Recusal of Judge in 2020 Election Case


Former President Donald Trump's legal team has reiterated its argument that US District Judge Tanya Chutkan should step down from the 2020 election criminal case against him in Washington, DC.

This latest plea from Trump comes as no surprise, but the legal team's approach took a bold turn by using Chutkan's own words to bolster their case. They asserted that Trump's political achievements could lead to a perception of bias in his prosecution, especially in light of Chutkan's firm stance on January 6 riot cases.

In a Sunday night filing, Trump's lawyers emphasized the importance of ensuring President Trump's constitutional rights are safeguarded by an impartial judicial officer. They emphasized, "No president is a king, but every president is a United States citizen entitled to the protections and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution." The filing referenced Chutkan's use of the phrase "presidents are not kings" in a previous denial of Trump's attempt to block House investigators from accessing his presidential records. This phrase, originally coined by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, now a Supreme Court justice, has become synonymous with Chutkan's legal stance.

Ultimately, it will be up to Chutkan to decide whether she should recuse herself from the case. While Trump's request faces a high legal bar, his filings on this matter could potentially be used in appeals if he is convicted. Such recusal requests are often complex, as they entail a defendant questioning the judge presiding over their trial, and the standard for compelling a recusal is stringent. Consequently, such attempts are typically unsuccessful.

Despite the uphill battle, Trump has persisted in recent days, criticizing the case against him within the federal system and casting doubt on Chutkan's impartiality in court documents. His legal filings have been forthright in their scrutiny of the judge, even as officials from the Justice Department maintain that Chutkan's handling of other January 6 cases has been proper.

The crux of the matter, as Trump's team argues, lies in whether the public perceives these proceedings as legitimate or as a politically motivated endeavor by the current administration to neutralize a significant political opponent in a presidential campaign — an opponent who not only remains free but also holds a substantial lead in the polls. The team underscores that public confidence is not a trivial consideration; it is the linchpin. They emphasize, "No system of justice can survive if its citizens lose faith in it."

Simultaneously, Trump is facing a request from federal prosecutors for Chutkan to impose further restrictions on his public commentary about the case and potential witnesses. They argue that his social media criticisms have led to harassment. The judge is currently weighing this request as well.