April 3, 2024

By Mallory Wilson


Rep. Elise Stefanik called on New York Judge Juan Merchan to recuse himself from Donald Trump’s hush money case for having a “clear judicial bias” against the former president.

“Democrat Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan, who donated to Biden’s campaign and another anti-Trump cause in 2020, has a clear judicial bias against President Trump. Merchan’s adult daughter is a Democrat political operative who has financially benefited from her father’s unprecedented trial of President Trump,” Ms. Stefanik, New York Republican, said in a statement Wednesday.

“When Trump raised this additional evidence of Judge Merchan’s bias, Merchan retaliated by expanding his unconstitutional gag order on Trump,” the House GOP Conference chairwoman added. “The law and commonsense absolutely require Judge Merchan’s recusal from President Trump’s trial. We cannot allow a biased, far-left activist judge to strip the American people of our constitutional right to select [our] own leaders.”

Judge Merchan issued a gag order last week barring Mr. Trump from making public statements about possible witnesses and staff in the case. He later expanded the order to stop the former president from making comments about his daughter, Loren Merchan, a Democratic political consultant, and family members of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the case.

Mr. Trump bashed the judge, his daughter, the case and the gag order on his Truth Social account. He also called on Judge Merchan to recuse himself.

“This pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” Judge Merchan wrote. “It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game,’ for Defendant’s vitriol.”

In a letter to the judge Monday, attorneys for Mr. Trump joined the chorus calling for recusal since Ms. Merchan is “making money by supporting the creation and dissemination of campaign advocacy for President Trump’s opponent, political rivals and the Democratic Party.”

The case’s prosecutors responded Tuesday, rejecting the claim.

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit … this court’s family member, let alone this court,” the prosecutors wrote.

Mr. Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The former president’s current lawyers say the payments to Mr. Cohen were legal expenses and not part of a cover-up.

Mr. Trump has faced gag orders in his other cases, including his New York civil fraud trial and his criminal case in Washington over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.