The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial in Manhattan has dismissed the former president’s request to resign and dismissed defense claims that he was biased against the Republican frontrunner because he gave money to the Democrats and his daughter is a party adviser.
New York Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, in a ruling late Friday, acknowledged he made several small donations to Democratic causes during the 2020 campaign, including $15 to Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, but said he was aware of his “Ability to be fair and impartial,” sure. “
To withdraw from the case “would not be in the public interest,” Merchan wrote. His six-page ruling reflected the latest opinion from a state court ethics panel, which affirmed his continued involvement in the Trump case.
The decision to reject was up to Merchan alone. He previously denied a similar request when Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, was on trial for tax fraud last year.
Trump’s attorney Susan Necheles declined to comment. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case and said in the court filings that it wanted Merchan to remain on the case, also declined to comment.
Trump’s hush money trial — one of three pending criminal cases against him — is scheduled to begin March 25 and will coincide with the presidential primary season when he is seeking a return to the White House. A federal judge last month denied Trump’s request to move the case out of Merchan’s state courtroom and into federal court. Trump is appealing the ruling that he failed to meet a high legal hurdle for a change of venue.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of forging business records in Manhattan in April. The charges relate to hush money payments as part of the 2016 campaign to quash allegations that he engaged in extramarital sexual encounters. He has denied wrongdoing.
Separately, Trump also faces charges in federal court in Florida for illegally hoarding classified documents and obstructing investigators at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and in federal court in Washington, DC, in connection with efforts to overturn the results of his election defeat in the United States 2020 in the run-up to his supporters’ violent uprising in the US Capitol.
Trump’s attorneys wanted to exclude Merchan from the case, among other things, because his daughter Loren is a political consultant whose firm has worked for some of Trump’s Democratic rivals and because, they allege, he behaved inappropriately when he last year Negotiations for funding involved Trump’s longtime funding boss, Allen Weisselberg. Merchan said he previously dismissed that argument when asked to leave the Trump Organization case.
Trump’s attorneys also raised concerns about the political donations, asking Merchan to explain three donations totaling $35 made on his behalf for Democratic causes during the 2020 election cycle. Merchan said in his ruling that “the donations in question are self-evident and require no further clarification,” citing the ethics panel’s conclusion that such small-scale donations need not be refused.
“These modest political contributions, made more than two years ago, cannot reasonably convey the impression of bias or favoritism in the case before the judge,” the panel wrote.
Merchan, a New York state court judge, asked the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics for comment after Trump’s indictment on April 4, when news outlets began reporting on his political contributions and Trump – citing his daughter’s work – commented complained that he was “a Trump wife”. hating judge” with a family full of “Trump haters”.
The Ethics Panel, in its May 4 opinion, concluded that a judge in Merchan’s situation “may continue to preside over the matter provided the judge is satisfied that he/she can be fair and impartial.”
Trump’s attorneys filed a May 31 motion to have Merchan dismissed, arguing in court filings that the hush money case is “historic and it is important that the people of New York State and this nation have confidence that the attorney handling the case, be impartial.”
Matthew Colangelo, a senior adviser to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, countered that Trump’s motion for a denial is the latest in a “lifelong history of baseless accusations of bias by state and federal judges across the country.”
Merchan’s daughter Loren is a political consultant whose firm has worked on campaigns for prominent Democrats including Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Merchan, citing the ethics panel’s finding that his daughter’s work did not affect his impartiality, said in his ruling that Trump’s attorneys “have not been able to establish that there are any concrete or even realistic grounds for the reasonableness of a denial, let alone.” for, that these reasons are necessary.” Reasons.”
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