1 of 2 | Attorneys for Donald Trump on Monday asked District Judge Tanya Chutkan, the judge presiding over his federal election interference case, to recuse herself, accusing her of bias against the former president. Trump previously has sought to have the judges overseeing various cases against him removed for supposed bias, including in the "Stormy Daniels" New York criminal case, in which the judge denied his request. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Attorneys for Donald Trump on Monday asked the judge presiding over his federal election interference case to recuse herself, accusing her of bias against the former president.
The lawyers cited comments made by District Judge Tanya Chutkan in other cases connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters as alleged evidence of her bias and unfitness to preside over the election interference case brought against the former president by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Chutkan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, is overseeing the Department of Justice's case against Trump, in which he is charged with attempting to remain in office following his 2020 election loss by organizing a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.
Previously, Chutkan participated in other cases involving Trump and his supporters, including a decision denying his bid in 2021 to prevent records from being turned over to the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which she wrote, "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not president."
She also presided over several sentencings of Jan. 6 rioters, in which she spoke out forcefully against "the people who exhorted" them into criminal action.
In their 25-page motion, Trump's attorneys on Monday cited that language as evidence Chutkan cannot be trusted to be unbiased.
The is "little doubt" that reasonable members of the public might "believe she has prejudged both the facts pertinent to this case and President Trump's alleged culpability," they wrote.
"In a highly charged political season, naturally all Americans, and, in fact, the entire world, are observing these proceedings closely," they added. "Only if this trial is administered by a judge who appears entirely impartial could the public ever accept the outcome as justice."
Chutkan herself has the authority to determine if she should recuse herself. If she does not, Trump's attorneys have the option to appeal her decision, although it is rare for an appellate court to overturn a trial judge's decision in such cases.
Trump has previously sought to have the judges overseeing various cases against him removed for supposed bias, including in the "Stormy Daniels" New York criminal case charging him with making illegal hush money payments to the former adult film actress.
In that case, Trump's attorneys sought to remove Judge Juan Merchan, claiming he is biased in part because of his daughter's political consulting work for Democratic candidates, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Merchan turned aside that bid on Aug. 14.