May 29, 2024

By James Lynch


Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) is demanding an investigation into misconduct surrounding the assignment of Judge Juan Merchan to former president Donald Trump’s criminal trial.

Stefanik filed a misconduct complaint on Tuesday evening with the New York State Unified Court System over the assignment of Judge Juan Merchan to Trump’s “hush-money” criminal trial and other cases connected to Trump.

“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,” the complaint reads.

“The simple answer to why Acting Justice Merchan has been assigned to these cases would seem to be that whoever made the assignment intentionally selected Acting Justice Merchan to handle them to increase the chance that Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and Steven Bannon would ultimately be convicted,” the complaint adds.

She is requesting the court system’s inspector general and the New York State commission on judicial conduct investigate Merchan’s assignments. Merchan will also be presiding over criminal cases against the Trump Organization and prominent Trump ally Steve Bannon.

Merchan previously donated to President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and his daughter is a Democratic strategist whose clients have fundraised off the Trump prosecution. Last week, Stefanik filed an ethics complaint against Merchan based on his partisan allegiances and a potential conflict of interest stemming from his daughter’s career.

The jury in Manhattan, New York is currently deliberating on whether to convict Trump of falsifying business records of reimbursements he paid to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen after he paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The prosecution is accusing Trump of falsifying the business records to conceal federal campaign finance crimes that federal prosecutors have not pursued against Trump.

Trump cannot criticize Merchan’s daughter under the terms of the gag order Merchan imposed on Trump during the criminal trial. Merchan has threatened to have Trump jailed if he continues to violate the terms of the gag order.

The former president often attacks Merchan and Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, for waging a political prosecution against him to derail his 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump’s political allies have echoed his criticism from the courthouse as the trial became part of Trump’s 2024 campaign.