Former President Donald Trump on Sunday once again repeated his request to have the judge presiding over his federal election interference case removed, citing what he said were “disqualifying statements.”
In a new 11-page court filing, Trump argued that prior comments made by Judge Tanya Chutkan in two other Jan. 6 defendants’ cases she presided over “point to the unmistakable conclusion that the appearance of prejudgment will infect every aspect of this case and cause the public to rightly question the very legitimacy of these historic proceedings.”
“The core value at issue here is whether the public will accept these proceedings as legitimate; or instead view them as a politically motivated effort by the incumbent administration to take out its most significant political opponent in a presidential campaign — the opponent who, by the way, is not only free, but has a strong lead in the polls,” Todd Blanche and John Lauro, two lawyers for Trump, wrote.
Trump remains the front-runner in the GOP presidential primary despite having been indicted four times.
Chutkan has overseen several cases of people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and handed down some of the toughest sentences.
But Blanche and Lauro argued that some references she made to Trump in court in the sentencings of two Capitol rioters raise questions about her ability to appear fair in this proceeding against the former president.
“No president is a king, but every president is a United States citizen entitled to the protections and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” the court filing states.
This is an apparent reference to a comment Chutkan made when she presided over the case involving Trump’s effort to block the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot from accessing White House records.
“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan wrote at the time. “He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent President ‘is not constitutionally obliged to honor’ that.”
Special counsel Jack Smith, who oversaw the investigation into Trump’s attempt to undo the 2020 election, last week argued there was “no valid basis” for Chutkan’s removal, adding that Trump “has failed to identify anything approaching the clear and convincing evidence necessary to overcome the presumption of impartiality.”
Chutkan will ultimately be the one to decide whether to recuse herself.
Meanwhile, Smith on Friday separately asked Chutkan to issue a gag order to stop Trump from making inflammatory statements that he claims are endangering witnesses and will make finding a fair jury difficult.
“The defendant’s past conduct, including conduct that has taken place after and as a direct result of the indictment in this case, amply demonstrates the need for this order,” Smith wrote.
Chutkan has yet to rule on Smith’s request.
Apart from his plot to undo Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, Trump is facing criminal charges for his role in hush money payment scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels, as well as his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Last month, he was indicted in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential race result there.