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Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have filed a new motion in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case that has long-term implications for how it may play out.
In the motion, Trump demanded that the judge recuse himself because the former president doesn’t believe he is impartial, Just the News reported.
“Trump’s attorneys submitted a filing to the court pointing to Judge Juan Merchan’s past role in a previous case in which he encouraged former Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg to cooperate against the former president, before noting the political and financial interest of the judge’s daughter in the case’s outcome,” the report said.
“Merchan’s daughter works for Authentic Strategies, a left-wing advertising group that Trump’s attorneys say stands to make money on the case, according to The Hill. The attorneys noted that the case’s outcome will likely affect political messaging during the 2024 electoral cycle and shape the ways Authentic works with its clients,” the outlet added.
The filing also asks the judge to explain “what appear to be certain political contributions made by [Merchan] to candidate Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign and other political causes so that the defense can assess whether these donations separately warrant [the judge’s] recusal.”
According to records from the Federal Election Commission, a person named Juan Merchan, who is an employee of the New York court system, made political contributions totaling $35 in 2020. Out of that amount, $15 was donated to President Joe Biden’s campaign, Just the News noted.
“This case before this Court is historic and it is important that the People of the State of New York and this nation have confidence that the jurist who presides over it is impartial. Most respectfully, the foregoing facts compel the conclusion that Your Honor is not and thus should recuse,” insisted the former president’s legal team, the filing stated.
Last month, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on 34 criminal charges of falsifying business records related to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Trump sent a payment to Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, allegedly to keep Daniels quiet about an affair the two of them had in 2006. Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges.
Bragg on Tuesday moved to oppose an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to move the case to federal court. Trump’s lawyers argued late last month that the case cannot be tried in a state court because the alleged violations took place while he was president, making them a federal matter.
In court documents filed Tuesday, prosecutors in Manhattan argued that the case should remain with the state court because the former president’s “alleged criminal conduct had no connection to his official duties and responsibilities as President, but instead arose from his unofficial actions relating to his private businesses and pre-election conduct.”
Since the indictment, several legal experts have argued they believe that Bragg’s case is exceptionally weak.
“The question to ask yourself in a case like this [is], ‘Would a case like this be brought against anybody else, whether he or she be president, former president or a regular citizen?’ The answer is… no,” Former Whitewater deputy counsel Sol Wisenberg said.
Former federal and New York State prosecutor Tali Farhadian Weinstein said: “Bragg is making a strategic decision to push back against Donald Trump, and it might backfire. The former president is demanding that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office provide a ‘bill of particulars’ outlining the specific reason they upgraded his charges of business record fraud from misdemeanors to felonies in the Stormy Daniels hush payment case — something that under New York law, requires the fraud to have been committed in order to cover up a second crime. Bragg has declined to provide it so far. This could actually be a problem for Bragg.”