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Trump Seeks Recusal of Judge Overseeing Jan. 6 Prosecution

Former President Trump is asking the judge assigned to his federal prosecution for seeking to overturn the 2020 election results to step aside because of her past comments about his responsibility for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol reports Politico. Trump’s attorneys said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s comments about Trump during sentencing hearings for two Capitol riot defendants indicated she had already concluded that Trump was responsible for crimes related to the violence that took place that day. Recusal motions in criminal cases are rarely successful, and this one is rooted in the records of the cases Chutkan has handled. In both of them, the Jan. 6 defendants argued that they should receive lighter sentences because Trump bore responsibility for directing them to the Capitol. Trump now says her assessment of those arguments requires recusal. “Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial — and may believe that she can do so — her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome,” said Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and John Lauro in seeking to oust Chutkan, an appointee of former President Obama.

Trump’s move came in the criminal case that special counsel Jack Smith brought in August, charging the former president with four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. The indictment also accused Trump of trying to exploit the violent Jan. 6 assault on Congress to continue his effort to cling to power. The new motion centers on Chutkan’s in-court comments about Jan. 6 defendants who have claimed their sentences should take into account the prominent figures, such as Trump, who promoted false notions that the 2016 election had been stolen. “Public statements of this sort create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system,” Blanche and Lauro said. “In a case this widely watched, of such monumental significance, the public must have the utmost confidence that the Court will administer justice neutrally and dispassionately. Judge Chutkan’s pre-case statements undermine that confidence and, therefore, require disqualification.”


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