Lawyers for Donald Trump have asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself
Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself, citing her past public statements about the former president and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The recusal motion is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, who is unlikely to see cause to step aside from the case.
The request that she give up the high-stakes trial marks the latest flashpoint in already delicate relations between the defense team and the judge, who has repeatedly cautioned the lawyers against inflammatory public comments from Trump but has nonetheless been lambasted on social media by him. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team signaled its own concern about his comments, writing last week that Mr. Trump’s daily statements — he has derided her as “highly partisan” — could taint a potential jury pool. Chutkan last month scheduled the trial for March 4, 2024, over the vigorous objections of defense lawyers who said that would not give them enough time to prepare.
The case in Washington, charging Mr. Trump in a four-count indictment with plotting to overturn the results of the 2024 election, is one of four criminal cases confronting the former president as he seeks reelection to the White House. Federal judges are supposed to step aside in cases where their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
Other bases for recusal include a personal bias against one of the parties. Mr. Trump’s lawyers say that Chutkan’s comments in cases against Jan. 6 rioters show she has “already formed an opinion about President Mr. Trump’s guilt” and many of the allegations that underpin the indictment against him.