Citing prejudicial courtroom statements made in other January 6 cases she presided over, President Trump filed a motion through his attorneys in D.C. federal court on Monday calling for Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself from Trump’s case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith over his challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. C
If Chutkan refuses to step aside, Trump can appeal her decision to an appeals court.
Chutkan scheduled Trump’s trial for March 4, 2024, the day before the Super Tuesday presidential primary. Trump’s lawyers strenuously argued against the early trial date cite the over 12 million pages of evidence gathered by the Department of Justice for the case, saying, “Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule.”
Chutkan’s biased comments against Trump were reported last month by independent investigative reporter Julie Kelly (excerpt):
…A review of thousands of pages of hearing transcripts reveals that Chutkan has repeatedly expressed strong and settled opinions about the issues at the heart of United States v. Donald Trump – the criminal case she is now presiding over.
These include her public assertions that the 2020 election was beyond reproach, that the Jan. 6 protests were orchestrated by Trump, and that the former president is guilty of crimes. She has described Jan. 6 as a “mob attack” on “the very foundation of our democracy” and branded the issue at the heart of the case she is hearing – Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen – a conspiracy theory.
Although judges often make comments from the bench, Chutkan’s strident language raises questions about her impartiality in handling the case against the presumptive GOP nominee for president in 2024.
The U.S. code that addresses grounds for recusal states, ”Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” One reason to recuse is if the judge has demonstrated “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.”
…Before sentencing Christine Priola, a Trump supporter from Ohio who pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding, to 15 months in jail, Chutkan appeared to lament the fact Trump was not yet in prison. “[The] people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man – not to the Constitution, of which most of the people who come before me seem woefully ignorant, not to the ideals of this country, and not to the principles of democracy,” Chutkan said on Oct. 28, 2022. “It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.” (Emphasis added.)
Mark Levin devoted his Life, Liberty & Levin shown on the Fox News Channel Sunday night to the case for Chutkan’s removal from the Trump case.
Excerpts from the nine-page Trump recusal motion with sixteen pages of exhibits:
DEFENDANT DONALD J. TRUMP’S MOTION FOR RECUSAL OF DISTRICT JUDGE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)
President Donald J. Trump, through undersigned counsel, respectfully moves to recuse and disqualify the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a).
Fairness and impartiality are the central tenets of our criminal justice system. Both a defendant and the public are entitled to a full hearing, on all relevant issues, by a Court that has not prejudged the guilt of the defendant, and whose neutrality cannot be reasonably questioned.
Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying. Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give
President Trump a fair trial—and may believe that she can do so—her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of the outcome. The public will reasonably and understandably question whether Judge Chutkan arrived at all of her decisions in this matter
impartially, or in fulfillment of her prior negative statements regarding President Trump. Under these circumstances, the law and the overwhelming public interest in the integrity of this historic proceeding require recusal.
THE DISQUALIFYING STATEMENTS
In October 2022, before the Special Counsel’s appointment or the filing of this case, Judge Chutkan stated:
“This was nothing less than an attempt to violently overthrow the government, the legally, lawfully, peacefully elected government by individuals who were mad that their guy lost. I see the videotapes. I see the footage of the flags and the signs that people were carrying and the hats they were wearing and the garb. And the people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man — not to the Constitution, of which most of the people who come before me seem woefully ignorant; not to the ideals of this country; and not to the principles of democracy. It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.” United States v. Christine Priola 1:22-cr-242, ECF #66 at 29:17–30:3 (sentencing transcript) (emphasis added) (relevant portions attached as Ex. A).
The public meaning of this statement is inescapable—President Trump is free, but should not be. As an apparent prejudgment of guilt, these comments are disqualifying standing alone. However, this was not the first time Judge Chutkan expressed such an opinion. In December 2021,
Judge Chutkan similarly suggested that, in her view, President Trump was responsible for the events of January 6, 2021, and should be prosecuted:
“He went to the Capitol because, despite election results which were clear-cut, despite the fact that multiple court challenges all over the country had rejected every single one of the challenges to the election, Mr. Palmer didn’t like the result. He didn’t like the result, and he didn’t want the transition of power to take place because his guy lost. And it is true, Mr. Palmer — you have made a very good point, one that has been made before — that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged. That is not this court’s position. I don’t charge anybody. I don’t negotiate plea offers. I don’t make charging decisions. I sentence people who have pleaded guilty or have been convicted. The issue of who has or has not been charged is not before me. I don’t have any influence on that. I have my opinions, but they are not relevant.”
“So you have a point, that the people who may be the people who planned this and funded it and encouraged it haven’t been charged, but that’s not a reason for you to get a lower sentence.”
Public statements of this sort create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system. In a case this widely watched, of such monumental significance, the public must have the utmost confidence that the Court will administer justice neutrally and dispassionately. Judge Chutkan’s pre-case statements undermine that confidence and, therefore, require disqualification.
For the foregoing reasons, Judge Chutkan should recuse herself from this case and direct the Clerk to randomly assign this matter to another District Judge.6 Additionally, given the overriding public interest in ensuring the appearance of fairness in this proceeding, President Trump requests the Court consider this Motion on an expedited basis and, pending resolution, withhold rulings on any other pending motion.
6 President Trump reserves all rights to challenge the venue in this District based on applicable law.