Judge Denies Trump, Won't Recuse Herself

Tanya Chutkan calls defendant's portrayal of past comments from the bench 'cynical and suspicious'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2023 7:30 PM CDT
Rejecting Trump's Arguments, Judge Won't Recuse Herself
This undated photo provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts shows US District Judge Tanya Chutkan.   (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts via AP, File)

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan turned down former President Trump's request that she recuse herself from presiding over the federal government's election obstruction prosecution of the former president in Washington, making it clear that she disagreed with his legal team's reasoning. The Trump lawyers' interpretation of two statements she made in sentencing Capitol attack defendants was "hypersensitive, cynical, and suspicious," Chutkan wrote in a 20-page opinion, the Washington Post reports. The statements she made "certainly do not manifest a deep-seated prejudice that would make fair judgment impossible," Chutkan said, per MSNBC.

The judge had told a defendant in October that he and others at the Capitol "were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man—not to the Constitution." She added, "It's a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day." The defense filing called the judge's meaning "inescapable—President Trump is free, but should not be." Prosecutors under special counsel Jack Smith argued that Trump's team took the comments out of context and came to an incorrect conclusion. A judge's job in presiding over a trial includes answering arguments and forming opinions based on the facts of a case, they said. Chutkan agreed, per the Post. A reasonable person, Chutkan wrote, would understand that a judge wasn't making pronouncements about another person's guilt in "a hypothetical future case." Defendants face a high bar in arguing for a judge's recusal. (Read more election interference indictment stories.)

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