District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan refused to recuse herself in Donald Trump's trial for the January 6 riots. In her ruling, Chutka declares that she never "expressly" accused the former president of being responsible for the events that occurred at the Capitol in 2021 and stressed that "in the wrong hands, a disqualification motion is a procedural weapon to harass opponents and delay proceedings" and it "could also be wrongfully deployed as a form of ‘judge shopping."
Chutkan: Trump's lawyers concluded that she blamed him
According to the judge, she never explicitly blamed the former president. Instead, Trump's lawyers reached that conclusion on their own. Chutkan wrote in a 20-page document, "The court expressly declined to state who, if anyone, it thought should still face charges. It is the defense, not the court, who has assumed that the Defendant belongs in that undefined group."
A reasonable person — aware of the statutory requirement that the court address the defendant’s arguments and state its reasons for its sentence — would understand that in making the statements contested here, the court was not issuing vague declarations about third parties’ potential guilt in a hypothetical future case.
BREAKING: Judge Chutkan refuses to recuse herself in the Trump case after offering unpersuasive defenses of her on-the-record anti-Trump comments. https://t.co/w1jutsxd3Y
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) September 27, 2023
Trump's team disagrees with the decision and has not ruled out filing an appeal
Trump's team did not want to say whether the former president will appeal this decision, but they expressed their disagreement. "Disqualification is required whenever a reasonable person might conclude that the court is biased, such as is the situation here," they told The Guardian. A spokesperson told The Hill:
Fairness and impartiality are central tenets of our judicial system. Judges must not only be in fact, impartial, but must also appear to be unbiased. Based on her prior statements in other cases that she already holds an opinion regarding President Trump, his legal team believes that Judge Chutkan should have recuse [sic] herself.