Last Sunday, Donald Trump’s attorneys filed additional papers supporting their request that the District Court judge overseeing the 2020 election interference case recuse herself, CBS News reported.
Trump’s legal team initially filed a motion on September 11 asking that DC District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself over previous statements she made in sentencing hearings for two January 6 rioters, arguing that the statements suggest bias against the former president.
Last week, Judge Chutkan had set a deadline of Sunday night for Trump’s legal team to formally respond to special counsel Jack Smith’s opposition to the request for her recusal.
In his motion filed last Friday, Smith argued that there was “no valid basis” for claiming that Chutkan is disqualified from hearing the case.
Smith said in their motion to remove Chutkin, Trump’s lawyers took the judge’s words out of context and misstated “the proper legal standards governing judicial recusals.”
The special counsel also accused Trump’s legal team of cherry-picking from only two sentencing hearings, noting that in both cases, Chutkan was “appropriately responding to – and ultimately rejecting – a common argument” used by January 6 defendants, namely, that they should receive leniency since others involved in the riot, including Donald Trump, have not been held responsible.
In their motion responding to Smith’s filing, Trump’s attorneys again argued that Judge Chutkan’s statements critical of Trump in the two previous hearings disqualified her from overseeing the case. Calling the proceedings “historic,” the Trump team argued that it is not in the public interest to “rush to judgment” or have a “show trial contaminated by the appearance of a partial presiding judge.”
They argued that Judge Chutkan’s previous statements suggest “an apparent prejudgment of guilt.”
It will be up to Judge Chutkan to decide whether her previous statements suggest a perception of bias.
If the judge does decide to recuse herself, a new judge will be assigned to the case.
If she refuses to recuse, Trump’s legal team could petition an appeals court requesting that they order Chutkan to recuse. However, such efforts are rarely successful.