May 28, 2024

By Victor Nava


Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) filed a misconduct complaint Tuesday against the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s Manhattan hush money trial, alleging that his selection to handle the former president’s case — and others involving his allies — is “not random at all.”

The House Republican Conference chairwoman’s complaint with the inspector general of the New York State Unified Court System called for an investigation into Justice Juan Merchan “to determine whether the required random selection process was in fact followed.”

“The potential misconduct pertains to the repeated assignment of Acting Justice Juan Merchan, a Democrat Party donor, to criminal cases related to President Donald J. Trump and his allies,” Stefanik wrote.

“Acting Justice Merchan currently presides over the criminal case against President Trump brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg,” she said.

“Acting Justice Merchan also presided over the criminal trial against the Trump Organization and will be presiding over the criminal trial of Steve Bannon, a senior advisor in President Trump’s White House and a prominent advocate for President Trump,” Stefanik continued, noting that there were at least two dozen sitting justices eligible to oversee the cases but Merchan – an acting jurist – was selected for all three related to the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee for president and his allies.

“If justices were indeed being randomly assigned in the Criminal Term, the probability of two specific criminal cases being assigned to the same justice is quite low, and the probability of three specific criminal cases being assigned to the same justice is infinitesimally small. And yet, we see Acting Justice Merchan on all three cases,” Stefanik argued.

The congresswoman also highlighted the judge’s political donations, for which he was cleared of misconduct last July by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Merchan contributed $15 earmarked for the “Biden for President” campaign on July 26, 2020, and then the following day made $10 contributions to the Progressive Turnout Project and Stop Republicans each, Federal Election Commission records show

The donations were made through ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s preferred online fundraising platform.

The Progressive Turnout Project’s stated mission is to “rally Democrats to vote,” according to the group’s website.

Stop Republicans is a subsidiary of the Progressive Turnout Project and describes itself as “a grassroots-funded effort dedicated to resisting the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s radical right-wing legacy.”

The judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is more involved in Democratic politics – through her work as head of the consulting firm Authentic Campaigns — and Stefanik argued in her missive that Loren Merchan’s “firm stands to profit greatly if Donald Trump is convicted.”

“One cannot help but suspect that the ‘random selection’ at work in the assignment of Acting Justice Merchan, a Democrat Party donor, to these cases involving prominent Republicans, is in fact not random at all,” the New York Republican lawmaker wrote.

Stefanik demanded an investigation into the “anomaly” and asked that anyone found to be involved in any sort of “scheme” to get Merchan on the three cases face discipline.