Former President Donald Trump declared on Sunday that he will ask for the recusal of the judge overseeing his prosecution over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE ‘ASSIGNED’ TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social social media platform. “EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, AND SO DOES SHE! WE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ASKING FOR RECUSAL OF THIS JUDGE ON VERY POWERFUL GROUNDS, AND LIKEWISE FOR VENUE CHANGE, OUT IF D.C. [sic]”
Last week, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan was randomly assigned to Trump’s case. Chutkan was one of the first federal judges to reject Trump’s claims of executive privilege after he refused to turn over White House communications to members of the House Jan. 6 committee.
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan wrote in a November 2021 ruling. “At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President. And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight,” she added.
Appointed to the U.S. bench in 2015 by former President Barack Obama, Chutkan also has handed down the harshest Jan 6 sentences on the D.C. federal court, per the Washington Post.
She has not minced words over her thoughts and feelings regarding the deadly Capitol attacks, observing their fundamental connection to the former president and his rallying rhetoric.
In the sentencing of Jan. 6 defendant Carl Mazzocoo, Chutkan said he “went to the Capitol in support of one man, not in support of our country.” During the December 2021 sentencing of rioter Robert Palmer, she noted his “very good point” that “the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged.”
The federal indictment against Trump over his efforts to subvert the 202 election results alleged that six unnamed — and currently uncharged — co-conspirators acted in cahoots with the ex-president to “assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.”
Legal experts were able to use details provided by special counsel Jack Smith’s team of prosecutors to identify the individuals, who are likely former Trump lawyer and New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, “coup memo” author John Eastman, disgraced attorney Sidney Powell, Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, and a still undetermined “political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”
Politico reported that the former president will likely not see much major headway on his demands to oust Chutkan and have his trial take place outside of D.C., noting that requests from “dozens” of other Jan. 6 defendants to transfer their cases to a new location have been denied on the grounds of the intensive “voir dire” jury selection process, which is “intended to weed out jurors who might have an impermissible bias or be unwilling to set aside political views to judge a case based on evidence and facts.” Chutkan, meanwhile, has shown no signs of recusal.
“Makes perfect sense Trump’s lawyers would move to change venue,” tweeted national security attorney Mark Zaid. “Legit legal move. Jack Ruby asked for same after he killed Oswald in Dallas.”
“But personally attacking [the] Judge like this is trouble,” Zaid added. “His lawyers will need to think long & hard [about] firing this salvo. No turning back.”
Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman argued that the change of venue and motion to recuse “are dead losers and will be denied in short order.”
“You have to wonder if part of his strategy is to lose repeatedly [with] crappy motions to try to ground an argument in the public sphere that the court is biased.”
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Georgia State Law Prof. Anthony Michael Kreis told Newsweek that Trump’s post is a “political argument, not a legal argument.”
“Trump wants a judge of his choosing and jury of his preferred peers when he’s entitled to an impartial jury of his peers and an unbiased judge,” he said. “We have now had hundreds of January 6th defendants tried in Washington, D.C. and by all accounts those defendants have had fair juries. Some defendants even had jurors acquit them. There’s no factual basis to allege that Judge Chutkan can’t discharge her duties fairly, either. It’s a publicity stunt,” he added.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg agreed that the recusal “is not going to happen.”
“This is another delay tactic and a way to further rally his base,” he told the outlet. “Nothing fuels MAGA like grievance and martyrdom.”
Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has frequently criticized the Justice Department’s investigations of Trump, also agreed that a “venue change is highly unlikely” just because he is being tried in a “politically disadvantageous district.”
“It is always difficult to prevail on such motions, but this would be a particular stretch of the precedent,” he told Newsweek. “I would bet heavily against it. On recusal, the judge has made some concerning statements but it is highly unlikely that she would consider herself compromised or conflicted out of the case. Appellate courts are equally skeptical about such motions and heavily disfavor compelled recusals. Thus, Trump could not have pulled a less advantageous selection of the district or the judge.”
about the Trump indictment