Trump lawyers push to recuse Judge Juan Merchán in secret money case

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Donald Trump’s lawyers once again ask Judge Juan Merchán to recuse himself from the former president’s case Hush money trial in New Yorkseven months after the judge rejected a similar request from defense attorneys.

defense lawyers submitted a letter on Monday arguing that Merchan’s daughter’s work for digital consulting firm Authentic Campaigns creates an “ongoing financial interest” tied to the former president’s criminal trial.

“Under these circumstances, Your Honor has an interest in this case that justifies recusal, there is an unacceptable risk that the Court’s family relationships will influence judicial conduct, and the Court’s impartiality ‘could reasonably be questioned,'” the lawyer wrote. defender Todd Blanche. requesting permission to file a motion in support of the recusal.

In response to a filing filed Tuesday, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office argued that the defense’s request for Merchan’s recusal was factually flawed, provided no new information and should be immediately denied.

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s previous conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or a family member of this Court, much less this Court,” said prosecutor Matthew Colangelo.

Trump’s lawyers made a similar effort to have Merchan recused from the case last year based on $35 in political contributions he made to Democrats in 2020, including a $15 donation to Joe Biden, as well as his role in overseeing the trial. of the Trump Organization in 2022. and his daughter’s work as a political consultant.

businessman refused to recuse himself In an August 2023 ruling, he wrote that “this Court has examined his conscience and is confident in his ability to be fair and impartial.”

“Defendant has not demonstrated that there are concrete, or even realistic, reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds. The speculative and hypothetical scenarios offered by Defendant fall far below the legal standard,” Merchan said. about the accusations. related to her daughter’s work.

Merchan relied on a May 2023 opinion issued by the New York Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, which determined that her “impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned” based on her daughter’s work.

“We see nothing in the investigation to suggest that the outcome of the case would have any effect on the judge’s family member, his businesses or any of his interests,” the committee concluded.

In their letter on Monday, Trump’s lawyers argued that the circumstances of the trial have changed since Merchan’s decision in August 2023 not to recuse himself.

“The scenarios identified by the defense have been fulfilled. President Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president in the 2024 elections,” the document said before highlighting Merchan’s daughter’s role as a political consultant.

Loren Merchan has served as a partner at Authentic Campaigns, which has worked for numerous Democratic clients on digital ad placement, fundraising list acquisition and other digital consulting, according to records reviewed by ABC News. The firm’s past and current clients include President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign, pro-Democratic super PAC Senate Majority PAC (SMP), and current and former House campaigns. of Representatives of Representative Adam Schiff.

Authentic Campaigns has been paid nearly $12 million so far in the 2023/2024 election cycle. SMP paid the company $1.7 million last year and $2.1 million and $7.6 million respectively from the Biden campaign and the Harris campaign during the 2020 election, disclosure reports show. The fec.

“[There] There is strong evidence that Authentic has used this case to make money. “Those benefits and the ongoing financial interest cannot be ignored,” Blanche argued, suggesting that Merchan’s daughter would “continue to make money” because developments in Trump’s criminal trial create “fundraising fodder.”

In their response filed Tuesday, prosecutors disputed defense allegations about the financial conflict between Merchan and her daughter, writing that there are “multiple attenuated factual leaps here that undermine any direct connection between Authentic and this case.”

“This chain of innuendo falls far short of evidence that this Court has ‘a direct, personal, substantial or pecuniary interest in reaching a particular conclusion,'” the document says.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment accusing him of falsifying business records in connection with a money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Jury selection for the trial will begin April 15 in New York City.

ABC News’ Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.

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