Donald Trump requests that the judge overseeing the 2020 election subversion case step down.

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s election subversion case in Washington was asked to recuse herself on Monday by his attorneys, who claimed that her previous public comments about the former president and his involvement in the riot on January 6, 2021, cast doubt on her ability to be impartial.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama and has distinguished herself as one of the strictest judges of the Jan. 6 defendants, is the target of the recusal move by Trump’s attorneys. Given the high bar for recusal and the fact that Chutkan makes the final decision on whether to do so, the request has little chance of being granted.

The proposal that she withdraw from the crucial trial nonetheless represents the latest flashpoint in the already tense relations between the defense team and the judge, who has frequently forbade Trump from making incendiary remarks in public but has nonetheless come under fire from him on social media. The team of special counsel Jack Smith expressed its own worries about his remarks by stating last week that a potential jury pool would be tainted by Trump’s daily comments (he has called her “highly partisan”).

Chutkan instructed Smith’s team to submit any arguments against Trump’s request for a recusal by Thursday.

Chutkan set the trial date for March 4, 2024, last month over the vociferous protests of the defense attorneys, who claimed that would not give them enough time to prepare. One of the four criminal charges facing the former president as he runs for re-election to the White House is the Washington case, which accuses Trump in a four-count indictment of attempting to rig the outcome of the 2020 election.

The Trump legal team is following a tried-and-true strategy by pressing Chutkan to leave his position. His attorneys claimed that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is prejudiced because he has given money to Democrats and that his daughter is a party consultant in an unsuccessful attempt to have the judge removed from the hush-money lawsuit against him in New York state court.

The judge, though, rejected Trump’s request that he resign last month, stating that he was confident in his “ability to be fair and impartial.”

In situations where their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” federal judges are required to resign. One’s personal bias against one of the parties is another reason to recuse oneself. Chutkan’s comments in cases involving the Jan. 6 rioters, according to Trump’s attorneys, demonstrate that she “already formed an opinion about President Trump’s guilt” and many of the accusations that form the basis of the indictment against him.

Regardless of the outcome, the defense camp argued that despite Judge Chutkan’s sincere intentions to give President Trump a fair trial and her conviction that she is capable of doing so, her public words have tainted the proceedings. The public will understandably and rightly wonder whether Judge Chutkan made all of her rulings in this case impartially or in order to make good on her earlier criticisms of President Trump.

In six instances on Jan. 6, Chutkan frequently imposed prison terms that were harsher than those that the Justice Department’s prosecutors had suggested. In a separate Jan. 6 case, the judge previously rejected Trump’s effort to use executive privilege to prevent the delivery of records to the committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trump’s attorneys cited Chutkan’s comments from Christine Priola, an Ohio defendant who pleaded guilty on January 6 to blocking Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory—one of the counts Trump is facing. Christine Priola’s sentencing is scheduled for 2022.

According to Chutkan, those who flocked to the Capitol were there out of patriotism and loyalty to one man rather than the Constitution, about which the majority of those who have spoken before me appear to be painfully uneducated, the goals of this nation, or the tenets of democracy. It’s a blind devotion to one person, who is still at liberty today.

The defense also highlighted Chutkan’s remarks from the conviction of a Florida rioter who assaulted law enforcement personnel attempting to control the throng. Robert Palmer, who was given a sentence of more than five years in jail, appeared in court in December 2021. According to Chutkan, the defendant “made a very valid argument that the persons who exhorted and supported him to go into action and to battle had not been charged. Chutkan noted that she has no control over and doesn’t make decisions regarding pricing.

I have my opinions, but they don’t matter, stated Chutkan.

The comment, according to Trump’s attorneys, implies that she thought at the time that Trump should be charged.

Such public declarations give the impression of prejudging, which is irreconcilable with our legal system. Trump’s counsel argued that the public must have the highest faith that the Court will handle this highly publicized, monumentally important matter impartially.

Along with the proceedings in Washington and New York, Trump is also being investigated by the federal government in Florida on suspicion of illegally hoarding sensitive papers. Additionally, he is being investigated by the state of Georgia in Atlanta for alleged attempts to rig the Georgia state election in 2020.

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