Trump makes new request seeking recusal of judge in hush money case


Donald Trump’s lawyers are making another attempt to have Judge Juan Merchan remove himself from the New York hush money trial.

As they did the first time around, attorneys for the former president point to political work by the judge’s daughter. But they also argue that a recent gag order against Trump is a factor.

In a letter to Merchan, Trump’s attorneys said there’s an “unacceptable risk” that Merchan’s daughter’s employment with the political firm Authentic Campaigns, which worked with Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020, will influence her father’s conduct.

“Your Honor’s daughter is an executive and partner at Authentic Campaigns, Inc. As recently as February and March 2024, Authentic has used social media to market its connections to President Biden and Vice President Harris while deriding President Trump,” they wrote Monday in the letter, which was made public Tuesday.

The letter also says Merchan “appears to have made extrajudicial comments about the case,” citing comments he made last month to The Associated Press, and it argues that he “used the Office of Court Administration” to issue a statement about an X account that was associated with his daughter.

The letter asks for permission to file a motion Wednesday in support of its arguments with briefing and evidence.

The court and Authentic Campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The letter was dated the same day Merchan expanded a partial gag order after Trump attacked his daughter on social media, which Trump’s attorneys said “restricts his ability to engage in protected campaign speech.”

Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office responded Tuesday that Trump “has identified no changed circumstances” that warranted revisiting Merchan’s earlier order denying Trump’s motion seeking his recusal.

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this Court’s family member, let alone this Court,” the DA’s office wrote.

Trump’s attorneys filed a motion requesting Merchan’s recusal last year, citing “significant conflicts,” including his daughter’s employment.

During the 2020 election cycle, Merchan’s daughter was listed as president of Authentic, which, according to federal campaign finance reports, has worked with various Democratic groups.

Merchan refused to recuse himself, noting in an order in August that he had consulted with the state courts system’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics about his daughter’s employment and concluded “this Court has examined its conscience and is certain in its ability to be fair and impartial.”

Trump pleaded not guilty last year after he was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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