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Manhattan judge refuses to recuse himself from Trump’s indictment case despite having donated to Biden

 August 16, 2023

The presiding judge in the Manhattan case involving alleged payments by former President Donald Trump to an adult film star has rejected a request for his recusal.

The refusal comes after Trump's legal team pointed out the small contributions of Judge Juan Merchan to Democratic campaigns during the 2020 election cycle, as Fox News reported.

Trump's attorneys cited Judge Merchan's $15 donation to Joe Biden's campaign, as well as contributions of $10 each to the Progressive Turnout Project and Stop Republicans, as evidence of potential bias.

Despite these claims, Judge Merchan maintained that he could be "fair and impartial" and dismissed the legal team's arguments.

Arguments from Trump's Legal Team and Judge's Response

The legal team representing former President Trump contended that Judge Merchan's donations to Democrat causes indicated bias.

They further noted Merchan's daughter's role as the head of a digital firm that worked for President Biden's campaign, arguing that these connections constituted a conflict of interest.

In response to these allegations, Merchan referenced the findings of the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, which he had consulted before the request for recusal.

The advisory committee saw no evidence that the case outcome would affect the judge's relative or her business interests.

Moreover, Merchan countered the claim of personal bias, stating that Trump's team failed to provide substantial grounds for recusal.

He wrote, "Defendant has failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds."

He further characterized the scenarios posed by the defense as speculative and not meeting the legal standard.

Looking Ahead to the Trial

The former President, Donald Trump, was hit with 34 felony charges in March, brought by Manhattan's district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, as the New York Times reported.

These charges are related to allegations that Mr. Trump falsified documents to conceal a hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The hush-money case legal proceedings form one of four indictments that the former president currently faces. The trial concerning these charges is slated to begin in March 2024.

The refusal for recusal on the part of the presiding judge came at the beginning of a week marked by mounting legal troubles for Mr. Trump.

In addition to the ongoing case in Manhattan, strong indications surfaced that he would face yet another indictment, this time from a state prosecutor in Georgia, and that prediction indeed came true on Monday.

That set of charges pertains to his alleged attempts to interfere with the election results in that state.