Trump lawyers seek disqualification of judge in New York criminal case

Donald Trump’s lawyers have filed a motion to have a judge recuse himself from the Manhattan criminal case against the former president.

Trump’s campaign website released a statement late Wednesday from his attorneys accusing Judge Juan Merchan of having conflicts, which the statement said are detailed in the motion.

The motion seeks Merchan, who presided over Trump’s indictment on 34 counts of falsifying business records in Manhattan, to step aside from the case, Trump’s lawyers said.

“President Trump, like all Americans, is constitutionally entitled to an impartial judge and a fair judicial process,” his attorneys said in the statement, adding that the motion alleges Merchan has “significant conflicts.” .

The motion is not yet public, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was redacting, attorneys involved in the process said.

Trump in social media posts complained that Merchan “hats me.” Prominent attorneys interviewed by NBC News about Merchan’s reputation say the New York Supreme Court justice is fair (in New York, the Supreme Court is the name of the state’s highest trial court).

In Wednesday night’s statement, Trump’s lawyers in part raised the fact that Merchan presided over the criminal case against the Trump Organization. Their statement also refers to the employment of Merchan’s daughter in a political business that worked for President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Merchan has fined the Trump Organization $1.6 million for a long-running tax evasion scheme. The prosecution’s star witness was former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who testified against the company as part of a plea deal.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges in August and was sentenced to five months in prison. He was sent to Rikers Island in January and released in April.

Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in March on 34 counts of falsifying business documents related to his role in the secret money given to adult film star Stormy Daniels weeks before the presidential election in 2016 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with him a decade earlier. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and repeatedly denied an affair.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which took the case to the grand jury, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

The criminal trial has been set for March 2024.

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