Judge responds to Trump motion to remove her from DC case with strong warning

Former president’s legal team argues that judge former opinion of Trump’s actions years before case began

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 12 September 2023 20:00 BST
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The Washington DC judge in the election interference case against Donald Trump has responded to his legal team’s request that she recuse herself from the case with a stern warning.

The former president’s legal team argued that Judge Tanya Chutkan should leave the case because of statements she had made when sentencing defendants for taking part in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

The lawyers for the former president argued that Judge Chutkan “agreed with portions” of a sentencing memo for one of the January 6 defendants which “wrongly placed blame on President Trump and complained that he had not been charged”.

The defence lawyer for the defendant referred to in the motion said in a sentencing memo that “those voices, including the voice of the then-president himself, had convinced persons such as Mr. Palmer that the election was fraudulent and that they must take action to stop the transition of the presidency. . . . While many of the people who participated in the Capitol riot will be going to prison, the architects of that horrific event will likely never be charged with any criminal offense”.

The Trump lawyers added that “although Judge Chutkan correctly noted that she does not have any influence on charging decisions, her ... comments stating ‘you have made a very good point . . . that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged’ and ‘you have a point, that the people who may be the people who planned this and funded it and encouraged it haven’t been charged, but that’s not a reason for you to get a lower sentence’ reflect her apparent opinion that President Trump’s conduct ... occurred, and supports charges”.

“Otherwise, she would not have characterized the point as ‘very good’,” they said.

“Judge Chutkan’s statement that ‘I have my opinions’ suggests that in her view—formed almost two years before the initiation of this matter—President Trump should be charged,” the Trump legal team added.

After that filing, Judge Chutkan ordered that the prosecution, the legal team of Special Counsel Jack Smith, should file any opposing arguments within three days.

She also warned the Trump legal team that they must notify the special counsel’s office before filing that kind of motion or they might risk that later motions be “denied without prejudice”.

“Upon consideration of Defendant’s 50 Motion for Recusal, it is hereby ORDERED that the government shall file any opposition no later than September 14, 2023, and the defense shall file any reply within three calendar days from the filing date of the government’s opposition,” the judge wrote in the order on Monday. “All other deadlines set by the court remain in effect.”

“Defense counsel is reminded of the requirement to confer with opposing counsel before filing any motion and to indicate whether the motion is opposed ...Future motions that fail to comply with that requirement may be denied without prejudice,” she added.

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