May 29, 2024

By Alex Miller


House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik accused New York’s courts of a politically motivated scheme to install Judge Juan Merchan to oversee multiple cases against former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Ms. Stefanik, New York Republican, charged the state’s Unified Court System with misconduct for the repeated selection of Judge Merchan to oversee the hush money trial and that of former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

In a letter to the court’s inspector general, Kay-Ann Porter Campbell, Ms. Stefanik noted that Judge Merchan, who is on the bench for Mr. Trump’s hush money trial, also oversaw the criminal tax fraud proceedings against the Trump Organization and is slated to preside over Mr. Bannon’s fraud and money laundering trial.

She argued that the random selection method employed by the court to select a judge from a pool of two dozen judges appeared not so random at all.

“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,” Ms. Stefanik wrote. “And yet, we see Acting Justice Merchan on all three cases.”

She demanded that an investigation be opened into the “scheme” to install Judge Merchan to oversee all three trials.

Last week, the lawmaker called for a conflict-of-interest investigation into Judge Merchan in a complaint filed with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct because of his daughter’s ties to Democratic-affiliated organizations.

Jury deliberations began Wednesday in the trial, in which Mr. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed a sex romp with Mr. Trump.

Judge Merchan has come under intense scrutiny from Republicans because of his daughter’s professional life.

Ms. Stefanik echoed those attacks in her letter, arguing that because of Judge Merchan’s connections to the Democratic Party, his selection to oversee the trials was “not random at all.”

“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,” she wrote.