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Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked the judge to withdraw from a criminal case, echoing allegations of political bias.

NEW YORK (AP) — Just hours after his historic indictment This spring, Donald Trump He took his anger out on the judge, complaining that he was a “judge who hated Trump” and a family full of “Trump haters.”

On Friday, the former president’s lawyers doubled down on those criticisms, asking Judge Juan Manuel Merchan to recuse his criminal case in New York City over what they say is anti-Trump bias and conflicts of interest stemming from the work of his daughter to some of Trump’s Democratic opponents.

Merchan, Trump’s lawyers say, is a respected jurist In Manhattan criminal court, he tipped the balance in two other Trump-related cases by getting involved in negotiations in which he pleaded with Trump’s longtime finance chief and demanded that he testify against Trump’s company in exchange for a sentence. five months’ imprisonment.

Trump’s attorneys, Suzanne Nicholas and Todd Blanche, also asked Merchant to explain three political donations totaling $35 that were made to Democratic causes in his name during the 2020 election cycle.

In the New York case, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges relate to money paid during the 2016 campaign to bury allegations that Trump had extramarital sexual encounters. He denied doing anything wrong.

Merchan did not respond to inquiries from The Associated Press asking him to confirm or deny whether he was the person who made the donations, which include $15 for President Joe Biden’s anti-Trump campaign, according to federal campaign finance records. Such contributions are generally prohibited by court rules.

Trump’s lawyers wrote in what is known as a motion to dismiss that the former president’s criminal case is “landmark and it is important that the people of New York State and this nation trust that their attorney is impartial.”

The decision to refuse rests with Merchan himself, who previously turned down such a request when Trump’s company was on trial. Trump’s lawyers could also play a role in taking the case to appeal if he is convicted. Along with his motion, Trump’s lawyers have produced 42 pages of what they say is evidence of Merchan’s political bias.

Hush case remains in state court as Trump lawyers seek to move it to federal court, which would also take Merchan out of the judicial equation. A federal judge scheduled a hearing for June 27 on that request.

A message was left requesting comment from Mershan. A spokesman for the New York state court system, Lucien Chalfin, said that since the case is pending before a judge, “it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Merchan was very respectful and accommodating in his limited interactions with Trump, refusing to issue a gag order, even as the former president continued to taunt him, Attorney General Alvin Bragg and others involved in the case. At a recent hearing, Merchan said he was “doing everything possible” to make sure he didn’t cut Trump off from “every possible opportunity to advance his candidacy.”

Trump’s request to resign expands on the criticism he leveled at Merchan and his family in his remarks and on his Truth Social platform.

Merchant’s daughter, Lorraine, is a political consultant whose firm has worked on campaigns for prominent Democrats including Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Trump, leading contender for the Republican nomination In 2024, he may take on Biden again as he seeks a return to the White House. He and his allies have taken advantage of Merchan’s political connections to frame his trial as part of a Democratic-led “witch hunt.”

“I have a judge who hates Trump with a wife and family who hate Trump and their daughter works for Kamala Harris,” Trump said in a speech at his Mar-a-Lago home hours after his April 4 trial. .

Among other criticisms of Trump, Merchan allegedly “fired” former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg last summer and acted “sharply” in presiding over the company’s trial, which ended with a tax fraud conviction last December.

Merchant was heavily involved in the negotiations that led to an appeal against Weisselberg on charges of tax evasion on benefits including a Manhattan apartment and luxury cars. Merchan said he wished he could impose a harsher sentence after hearing Weisselberg’s testimony, especially when he talked about his wife receiving $6,000 for a job that didn’t show up to qualify for Social Security benefits while her husband was spending a lot of money.

Those cases were a precursor to Trump’s landmark impeachment.

Trump’s case ended up in the Merchant courtroom because of the rotation in which judges assigned to oversee grand juries take on whatever cases come up for them, according to the court system. Merchan also often handles financial cases and runs the Manhattan Mental Health Court, where some of the defendants are given the opportunity to settle their cases through therapy and supervision.

Merchan, 60, immigrated from Columbia when she was 6 years old and grew up in New York City. He was the first member of his family to attend college, and he worked his way through school, earning a law degree from Hofstra University in 1994.

He was a Manhattan district attorney and worked in the state attorney general’s office before then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him as a family court judge in 2006. Three years later, Merchan was appointed to a lower court, which in New York is called the Supreme Court. .

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter twitter.com/mikesisak And submit confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/.

2023-06-03 18:47:44
Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked the judge to withdraw from a criminal case, echoing allegations of political bias.



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