The Manhattan judge handling the hush money payments case against former President Trump has refused to recuse himself from the case following a request from Trump’s legal team.
Judge Juan Merchan affirmed his ability to be “fair and impartial” in an opinion rejecting arguments from Trump’s legal team stating that he should recuse himself. Trump’s lawyers had pointed to small donations Merchan made to Democratic causes for the 2020 election.
The case against Trump relates to alleged hush money he paid to pornography actress Stormy Daniels ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Merchan donated $15 to then-candidate Joe Biden’s campaign, $10 to the Progressive Turnout Project and $10 to Stop Republicans during the 2020 election cycle.
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The Manhattan judge handling the hush money payments case against former President Trump has refused to recuse himself from the case following a request from Trump’s legal team. (Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Trump’s lawyers argued that Merchan is biased and also noted his daughter’s role as president of a digital firm that has done work for Biden’s campaign.
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Merchan rejected the arguments and referenced findings from the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, which he consulted prior to Trump’s recusal request.
“We see nothing in the inquiry to suggest that the outcome of the case could have any effect on the judge’s relative, the relative’s business, or any of their interests,” the advisory committee wrote.
Judge Juan Merchan donated $15 to President Biden’s campaign, $10 to the Progressive Turnout Project and $10 to Stop Republicans during the 2020 election cycle. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Regarding the allegations of personal bias, Merchan said Trump’s team had failed to make a substantive argument.
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“Defendant has failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds,” Merchan wrote. “The speculative and hypothetical scenarios offered by Defendant fall well short of the legal standard.”
Judge Juan Merchan has refused to recuse himself from the case against former President Trump. (Marc A. Hermann/POLARIS)
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The trial is scheduled to begin in March 2024. It is one of four indictments the former president currently faces.