Trump demands recusal of U.S. District Judge Chutkan in election interference case

The former president's lawyers argue that the federal judge has already suggested that their client should be imprisoned prior to being charged.

Former President Donald Trump officially called for the recusal of federal judge Tanya Chutkan, who is handling his case in Washington D.C. for alleged electoral subversion in 2020.

According to the former president's lawyers, Chutkan would not be an impartial arbitrator, since on other occasions, she had already suggested that Trump should be tried and imprisoned for his participation in the January 6th events.

"Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned," Trump's lawyers wrote in the motion filed Monday. "Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying ... Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial — and may believe that she can do so — her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome."

Trump's lawyers refer particularly to two instances in which Judge Chutkan sentenced two Jan. 6th defendants and appeared to reprimand Trump as she did so.

The first incident occurred in December 2021, in Robert Palmer's case, in which he was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Chutkan.

According to the motion, Chutkan suggested, without mentioning it, that Trump had been the cause of the events on January 6.

"And it is true, Mr. Palmer — you have made a very good point, one that has been made before — that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged," Chutkan said, according to court documents.

The other event occurred ten months later, in October 2022, when Chutkan reprimanded Ohio's Jan. 6 defendant, Christine Priola, for having offered "blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day."

This motion against Chutkan comes after the former president criticized the federal judge on his social media, stating that she "obviously wants me behind bars" and that she is "very biased and unfair."

Chutkan, in fact, has already handed down harsh sentences against people involved in the storming of the Capitol, matching or even exceeding the requests of the Prosecutor's Office.

For Trump's lawyers, the record and statements of the federal judge are unacceptable for her to continue to lead this case of historic caliber.

"Public statements of this sort create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system," the former president's lawyers argued. "In a case this widely watched, of such monumental significance, the public must have the utmost confidence that the Court will administer justice neutrally and dispassionately. Judge Chutkan’s pre-case statements undermine that confidence and, therefore, require disqualification."