Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. As the American electoral system works, Trump stayed in office until January 2021 even though he lost the election in November 2020.
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Trump’s loss was not well received by his supporters and on 6 January 2021 a riot took place at the Capitol. Hordes of Trump supporters invaded the Hill, fighting with the police and looting the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is a strong face of Trump’s opposition. Trump’s involvement in the triggering of the riot was immediately brought forth.
On top of this, Donald Trump will be going to trial in March 2024 concerning possible ‘election interference.’ The two cases are linked by one thing: Judge Tanya Chutkan who prosecuted rioters of the Capitol.
This is why, on 11 September 2023, Trump’s legal team are asking Judge Chutkan to recuse herself.
The Capitol riot of 6 January 2021
On 6 January 2021, there was a meeting schedule at the Capitol during which Speakers of the House were to count the electoral college votes and therefore officially find that Joe Biden had been elected president.
On the same day, Donald Trump held a rally called ‘Stop the Steal’ during which he ‘directed the rallygoers to the Capitol’ and said:
(they needed to demand Speakers) do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated
While Donald Trump and his entourage deny any involvement in the riot, it is argued that his speech during the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally used violent imagery and had a call to action from his supporters. Many of the rioters were arrested and trialed, some of them by Judge Chutkan who is now the appointed judge for Trump’s trial in March 2024 that will determine if he interfered with the 2020 election transition.
Trump’s teamvs Judge Chutkan
Because of her involvement in some of the 6 January riot cases, Judge Chutkan is now asked to recuse herself by Trump’s legal team.
On Monday 11 September, CBS News reported that a ‘filing’ was done challenging Chutkan’s bias.
The filing said:
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
Trump’s team is arguing that when Judge Chutkan trialed 6 January’s rioters she made statements that show her belief that Trump should be in prison for his involvement.
Trump’s lawyers write:
The public meaning of this statement is inescapable — President Trump is free, but should not be
They have also said:
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
A repeated tactic from Trump’s team
This ‘filing’ done by Trump’s team is one of ‘many more’ expected ‘political manoeuvres’ said the host of CBS News’ America Decides.
It is important to know that only Judge Chutkan can decide to recuse herself from the trial and that attempts to have a judge removed are ‘often unsuccessful.’
Moreover, this is far from the first time that Donald Trump has tried to get out of trouble by requesting a change of judge. Just a month ago, on August 14, Judge Juan Merchan declined to recuse himself.
Interestingly enough, it is pointed out by CBS News that:
The only case in which Trump has not sought a new judge or jurisdiction is one in which the special counsel charged him with 40 felony counts (...)
The judge in that case, Aileen Cannon, was appointed by Trump.
CBS News: Trump asks Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself in Jan. 6 case
NBC News: What was Trump's role during the Capitol riot? The House plans to find out
The Guardian: Trump asks judge to recuse herself in federal 2020 election subversion case