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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Trump Loses again, This Time on Recusal

My new essay on CNN.com explains why Trump lost his last-ditch effort to disqualify Judge Tanya Chutkan from his conspiracy prosecution in Washington, D.C.

Here is the gist:

Why Trump’s bid to get rid of Judge Chutkan was a lost cause

Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan got it exactly right when she declined on Wednesday to recuse herself from special prosecutor Jack Smith’s case against former President Donald Trump for illegally plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and for conspiring to “corruptly obstruct and impede the January 6 congressional proceeding” for counting electoral votes.

The premise of Trump’s claim, as set out by his attorneys, is that Chutkan made “Disqualifying Statements” (a term they capitalized for emphasis) in two earlier cases involving other defendants. But as Chutkan explained, “a reasonable person” would understand that her statements at the time she made them had nothing to do with Trump’s — or anyone else’s — “potential guilt in a hypothetical future case.”

According to Trump, these comments, plucked out of context from the dozens of similar cases over which Chutkan presided, were evidence that she had prejudged “the core questions of [his] guilt or innocence.” In fact, her comments were made in response to the two defendants’ pleas for leniency, in which they claimed to have been misled and provoked by others, including Trump himself.

Recusal denials are not ordinarily appealable in the middle of a case. That probably won’t stop Trump from attempting to obtain an emergency review in the Court of Appeals or even the Supreme Court. His chances of succeeding in a higher court are negligible, however, and it is a safe bet that this case will proceed to trial with Judge Tanya Chutkan presiding.

You can read the entire essay on CNN.com

Posted by Steve Lubet on September 28, 2023 at 06:30 PM | Permalink


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