Trump seeks removal of federal judge from D.C. elections case

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a South Dakota Republican party rally in Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S. September 8, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump on Monday moved to disqualify a federal judge from overseeing the criminal case against him related to his efforts to overturn his loss in the national presidential election in 2020.

Trump’s lawyers said that public statements made by Judge Tanya Chutkan referring to Trump would harm his right to a fair trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“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,” the motion said.

“The public will reasonably and understandably question whether Judge Chutkan arrived at all of her decisions in this matter impartially, or in fulfillment of her prior negative statements regarding President Trump,” the filing said.

Chutkan will decide whether to recuse herself from the case.

Last month, she scheduled Trump’s trial to begin March 4, 2024.

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Trump has previously railed against Chutkan over some of the same statements his lawyers cited in their recusal motion.

On his Truth Social site last month, he said Chutkan “obviously wants me behind bars,” pointing to her remarks from an October sentencing hearing for Christine Priola.

Priola is one of the hundreds of people to face criminal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot by a mob of Trump supporters.

During Priola’s sentencing, Chutkan said, “The people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man.”

“It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day,” Chutkan added.

Trump’s attorney referenced those statements in Monday’s filing, arguing that “the public meaning of this statement is inescapable — President Trump is free, but should not be.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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