Former President Donald Trump has demanded the recusal of the judge overseeing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against him, arguing that the judge lacks impartiality. Trump’s legal team submitted a filing to the court, highlighting Judge Juan Merchan’s involvement in a previous case where he encouraged Allen Weisselberg, a former Trump Organization executive, to cooperate against Trump. They also raised concerns about the judge’s daughter’s political and financial interests in the case’s outcome.
According to Trump’s attorneys, Judge Merchan’s daughter is employed by Authentic Strategies, a left-wing advertising group that could potentially profit from the case. It has publicly taken positions against President Trump and has raised over $74 million in campaign contributions for Democrat clients since 2018.
Authentic Campaigns’ clients include progressive causes and Democrat elected officials, such as the Biden-Harris campaign, Kamala Harris for the People, and Hakeem Jeffries. Authentic Campaigns prominently displays a campaign rally for Vice President Kamala Harris on its website and features the “Biden Harris” campaign as its client.
The Trump legal defense pointed out that the case’s resolution may impact political messaging during the 2024 electoral cycle and shape Authentic’s client engagements.
Here are the key points, as explained in Trump’s legal motion:
- Judge Merchan’s daughter is a partner, President, and Chief Operating Officer of Authentic Campaigns, an entity that stands to financially benefit from decisions the Court makes in the case involving President Trump.
- The judge’s alleged record of political contributions made to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and other political causes. They cited Federal Election Commission records showing that a person named Juan Merchan, who works for the New York court system, donated $35 in political contributions in 2020, with $15 going to President Joe Biden’s campaign.
- The defense was not aware of the judge’s daughter’s employment until it was reported by the media after the arraignment in the case. The defense argues that the Court should have disclosed its relationship to Authentic Campaigns, through its daughter, at or prior to arraignment based on previous cases where disclosure was required to avoid an appearance of impropriety.
Stressing the significance of the case, Trump’s attorneys urged the court to consider the importance of an impartial judge, stating, “This case before this Court is historic, and it is important that the People of the State of New York and this nation have confidence that the jurist who presides over it is impartial. Most respectfully, the foregoing facts compel the conclusion that Your Honor is not impartial and thus should recuse.”
Donald Trump faces 34 criminal counts related to a 2016 payment made by his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to Stormy Daniels. The former president has pleaded not guilty to these charges.