On Monday, 2024 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump called for the recusal of US District Judge Tanya Chutkan from the 2020 election case brought forth by special counsel Jack Smith.
Attorneys for Trump cited previous statements made by Chutkan while sentencing two Jan. 6 defendants that had appeared to reference Trump, with the attorneys arguing that the comments suggested she had prejudged Trump’s guilt before he was charged, according to court filings.
“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,” the filing stated.
“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 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,” the filing added.
The filing cites comments made by Chutkan in October of 2022, in which she 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.”
The filing also cites similar comments made by Chutkan in December of 2021, in which she said, “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.”
She later added, “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.”
“In making these statements, Judge Chutkan agreed with portions of defendant Palmer’s sentencing memorandum, which similarly (and wrongly) placed blame on President Trump and complained that he had not been charged,” the filing states.