Trump makes new request seeking recusal of judge in hush money case

Donald Trump’s lawyers are making another attempt to have Judge Juan Merchan remove himself from the New York hush money trial.

Like the first time around, attorneys for the former president are pointing to political work that’s been done by the judge’s daughter. But they’re also arguing that a recent gag order against Trump is a factor.

In a letter to Merchan, Trump’s attorneys said there’s an “unacceptable risk” that Merchan’s daughter’s employment with the political firm Authentic Campaigns, which worked with President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020, will influence the judge’s conduct.

“Your Honor’s daughter is an executive and partner at Authentic Campaigns, Inc. As recently as February and March 2024, Authentic has used social media to market its connections to President Biden and Vice President Harris while deriding President Trump,” they wrote in Monday’s letter that was made public on Tuesday.

The letter also says Merchan “appears to have made extrajudicial comments about the case,” citing comments he made last month to The Associated Press and argued that he “used the Office of Court Administration” to issue a statement about an X account that was associated with his daughter.

The letter asks for permission to file a motion in support of its arguments that includes briefing and evidence on Wednesday.

The court and Authentic Campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

The letter from Trump’s attorneys was dated the same day that Merchan expanded a partial gag order after Trump attacked his daughter on social media, which Trump’s attorneys said “restricts his ability to engage in protected campaign speech.”

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office responded on Tuesday, saying Trump “has identified no changed circumstances” that warranted revisiting Merchan’s earlier order denying Trump’s motion seeking his recusal.

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this Court’s family member, let alone this Court,” the DA’s office wrote.

Trump’s attorneys last year filed a motion requesting Merchan’s recusal, citing “significant conflicts” including his daughter’s employment.

During the 2020 election cycle, Merchan’s daughter was listed as president of Authentic, which according to federal campaign finance reports has worked with various Democratic groups.

Merchan refused to recuse himself, noting in an August order that he had consulted with the state courts system’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics regarding his daughter’s employment and concluded “this Court has examined its conscience and is certain in its ability to be fair and impartial.”

Trump pleaded not guilty last year after he was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

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