Former President Donald Trump’s legal team also argued Sunday that US District Judge Tanya Chutkan should recuse herself from the 2020 criminal election case against him in Washington, DC.
Trump has argued this before, and his response on Sunday is expected. But the language of Trump’s legal argument used Chutkan’s own words against him, and argued in a particularly bold way that Trump’s political achievements meant that his prosecution could be considered politically biased, and Chutkan , a harsh judge in the January 6 riot cases, should no longer preside.
“The public must have confidence that President Trump’s constitutional rights are protected by an impartial judicial officer. No president is a king, but every president is a citizen of the United States entitled to the protections and right guaranteed by the US Constitution,” his lawyers wrote in a filing Sunday night. Chutkan used the phrase “presidents are not kings,” to deny an offer by Trump to block House investigators from obtaining his presidential records. First written by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, now a Supreme Court justice, in Trump’s previous case, the phrase became famous as part of in Chutkan’s jurisprudence.
Chutkan will ultimately make the decision on whether he should drop the case, and while Trump’s question is a long shot based on the law, his filings on the matter could be used in appeals if he is convicted. Recusal requests like this are often fraught, because a defendant must ask the judge presiding over their trial and the standard for compelling a recusal is very high. Such attempts are largely unsuccessful.
However, Trump has not held back in recent days, attacking the case against him in the federal system and questioning Chutkan’s legitimacy in court papers. His court filings were more direct in questioning the judge — though Justice Department officials argued that Chutkan had done nothing to show he was improperly handling other cases on Jan. 6.
“The core value at issue here is whether the public will accept these proceedings as legitimate; or rather see them as a politically motivated effort by the sitting administration to take out the most important political opponent in a presidential campaign—the opponent who is, in fact, not only free, but has a strong leading in the polls,” Trump said. written by the team. Public trust “is not a trivial consideration, it is the consideration,” they continued. “No justice system can survive if citizens lose confidence in it.”
At the same time, Trump faced a request from federal prosecutors for Chutkan to further limit his public speaking about the case and possible witnesses because, they said, his attacks on social media causes harassment. The judge is still evaluating the request.