The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has opposed former President Donald Trump’s request to remove the judge overseeing the criminal case involving a hush-money payment to a porn star.
In a filing on Tuesday, prosecutors argued that Trump’s bid should be rejected, stating that he has a track record of baselessly accusing judges of bias.
Trump’s lawyer declined to comment on the matter. The former president has alleged that New York state Justice Juan Merchan is conflicted because his daughter has worked for Democrats and could benefit financially from a conviction in the case.
Trump has also claimed that Merchan pushed the former CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, to cooperate with prosecutors during a separate criminal tax fraud case against the company, which Trump believes demonstrates the judge’s bias.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts related to falsifying business records in connection with a payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.
Prosecutors assert that the payment was intended to secure Daniels’ silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, an allegation he has denied.
In their opposition to Merchan’s recusal, prosecutors referred to a recent opinion from the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, as reported by Reuters.
The opinion, which did not name the judge in question, stated that a judge’s impartiality should not reasonably be questioned based on the political or business activities of their immediate family, as long as there is no indication that the case would impact the family member or their business.
Trump also raised concerns about political donations made by Merchan, including $35 in contributions, $15 of which went to a group supporting Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election.
Prosecutors argued that the amount was minimal and did not justify recusal. They further contended that accepting Trump’s arguments would effectively allow him to hand-pick a judge by excluding those appointed by Democrats.
Additionally, prosecutors emphasized that there was no evidence to suggest that Merchan coerced Weisselberg into cooperating against Trump.
They concluded by asserting that Trump’s history of attacking courts and judges indicates that his motion is driven by tactical considerations rather than ethical concerns.