On Tuesday, Trump's legal team submitted a motion for the recusal of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial of the former president over Alvin Bragg's indictment of Trump on falsifying his business records and paying hush money to Stormy Daniels. The 17-page filing obtained by The Hill goes over the motion for recusal and its reasons.
The motion argued that the judge could not preside over the case for at least two reasons that brought into question his impartiality. It argued that "the political and financial interest of Your Honor’s daughter in Authentic Campaigns creates an actual or perceived conflict of interest because rulings and decisions Your Honor will be required to make in this case may result in a financial benefit to Your Honor’s daughter" and "Your Honor’s role in a prior case encouraging Allen Weisselberg to cooperate against President Trump and his interests shows a preconceived bias against President Trump."
Trump's legal team also request that the judge forward relevant information concerning "what appear to be certain political contributions made by Your Honor to candidate Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign and other political causes so that the defense can assess whether these donations separately warrant Your Honor’s recusal."
The rules concerning recusal provide that judges ought to conduct themselves in an impartial manner at all times and that "[n]o judge shall allow his or her family, social, or other relationship to influence his judicial conduct or judgment."
Trump's defense team detail here that the judge's daughter "is a partner, President, and Chief Operating Officer of Authentic Campaigns (“Authentic”), an entity that stands to financially benefit from decisions the Court makes in this case." They emphasized in a footnote that "[t]he defense was not aware of Your Honor’s daughter’s employment until it was reported by the media after the arraignment in this case. We submit that the Court should have disclosed at or prior to arraignment its relationship, through its daughter, to Authentic Campaigns for the reasons stated herein."
The daughter's organization works for progressive causes and has in its client list the Biden-Harris campaign, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and other officials. Trump's lawyers explain that "Authentic worked for the 2020 Biden Campaign in its contest against President Trump, and continues to promote messaging directed, at least in part, against President Trump."
The fundraising through anti-Trump sentiment by this organization and the candidates it represents would use the Court's rulings to further fill their coffers especially since the 2024 election is not far off. Additionally, any reasonable person, argues Trump's lawyers, would see the Court giving off an appearance of bias- which it ought not to have.
Trump's lawyers also noted statements given by the judge during the trial of Mr. Weisselberg that bring into question his impartiality. Such statements were that "the Court indicated that it would sentence Mr. Weisselberg to a longer sentence of imprisonment than one to three years [if he was tried and convicted as opposed to cooperating with a probe against Trump and pleading guilty]." Judge Merchan even asked Mr. Weisselberg's counsel "words to the effect of 'what does he have to lose by trying to cooperate with the People?'” The attempts by the Court to induce cooperation against Mr. Trump create a perception of bias.
The Trump team also raised concerns over the judge's apparent donation history toward partisan causes. "According to publicly available information, during the 2020 presidential campaign, the Court made three political contributions through ActBlue. The first, for $15, was earmarked for the Biden campaign, the second, for $10, was earmarked to the Progressive Turnout Project, and the third, also for $10, was earmarked to Stop Republicans (a subsidiary of the Progressive Turnout Project.)" This too damages the appearance of impartiality of the court.