OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former President Donald Trump’s request that the Manhattan judge overseeing his criminal hush-money prosecution resign and reassign the case has been denied.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said he “carefully weighed the competing interests” outlined in the pertinent precedent before concluding that “recusal would not be in the public interest.”
“Further, this Court has examined its conscience and is certain in its ability to be fair and impartial,” Merchan added in his 6-page order.
Trump criticized the judge based on his $35 in donations to Democratic candidates and causes. Those contributions were split between then-2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Stop Republicans political action committee.
Merchan acknowledged those contributions in his ruling.
“First, the reported political contributions are a de minimus donation, not warranting recusal,” he wrote. “Second, the People submit that the reported political contributions do not raise a plausible concern regarding the appearance of impartiality because ‘”a judge’s identification with a political party, is not an indication that a judge is incapable of acting impartially.'”
“Unlike in federal courts, New York State judges are often elected through the political process, and judicial precedent has developed around that system accordingly. Trump also noted that Merchan’s daughter is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Authentic Campaigns, a digital marketing company that works with Democratic politicians and causes,” The Messenger reported.
“The New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics weighed in on Merchan’s political contributions and his daughter’s job in an advisory opinion, giving the judge a green light to continue presiding over the case,” the outlet added.
“On the specific issue of the employment of this Court’s daughter, the Committee wrote ‘the matter currently before the judge does not involve either the judge’s relative or the relative’s business, whether directly or indirectly. They are not parties or likely witnesses in the matter, and none of the parties or counsel before the judge are clients in the business. We see nothing in the inquiry to suggest that the outcome of the case could have any effect on the judge’s relative, the relative’s business, or any of their interests.”
Trump was indicted in April by a Manhattan grand jury in a case involving his purported role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, allegedly to keep Daniels quiet about an affair the two of them had in 2006.
Several Republicans have come out in support of Trump.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz responded: “The Democrat Party’s hatred for Donald Trump knows no bounds. The ‘substance’ of this political persecution is utter garbage. This is completely unprecedented and is a catastrophic escalation in the weaponization of the justice system.”
Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley said: “Tonight’s indictment of Donald Trump isn’t about the law. It’s about power. Raw power. It’s the Democrat Party telling the nation they will stop at nothing to control the outcome of the next presidential election. It is an assault on our democracy, pure and simple.”
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate, tweeted: “From everything I have seen from this New York district attorney is that this would be something he’d be doing for political points. I think what we know is, when you get into political prosecutions like this, it’s more about revenge than it is about justice.”
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said: “The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American. The Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent. Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.”