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Judge in Trump’s criminal trial declines to recuse himself

The judge announced the decision in the opening minutes of Trump’s trial Monday morning.
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 00:53 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 00:53 IST

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New York: Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, has declined to step aside from the case, rejecting the former president’s effort to delay the trial and attack his integrity.

The judge announced the decision in the opening minutes of Trump’s trial Monday morning.

“There is no agenda here,” Merchan said Monday before rejecting the request. “We want to follow the law,” he added. “We want justice to be done.”

Trump’s lawyers had called on Merchan to recuse himself in a recent court filing, citing his daughter’s work as a Democratic political consultant.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the case that accuses Trump of falsifying records to conceal a sex scandal from voters, had argued that no conflict of interest existed. And judicial ethics experts cast doubt on Trump’s request, noting that the judge was not responsible for his daughter’s career.

It was just the latest attempt by Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to both delay the trial and oust Merchan. Nor will it be the last: In a separate civil action filed last week, Trump asked an appeals court to pause the case while it considers whether to remove Merchan. It is a long-shot bid that a single appeals court judge rejected and will be likely to fail before a full five-judge panel.

When Trump tried last year to have Merchan kicked off the case, Merchan rejected it then as well, citing a state advisory committee on judicial ethics that determined that his impartiality could not reasonably be questioned based on his daughter’s interests.

The repeated attempts reflect the former president’s long-running effort to delay all four of his criminal cases past Election Day. Stalling is one of Trump’s favored legal tactics, and he uses it liberally in Manhattan, as well as in the three other cities where he faces criminal charges. If Trump reclaims the White House, the criminal cases against him would most likely grind to a halt.

In the attempt in appeals court to compel the judge’s recusal, Emil Bove, a lawyer for the former president, argued that certain facts had changed since Merchan first declined to step aside last year, including that Trump was now the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

But a lawyer for the court system, Lisa Evans, said that there was no reason that the judge should step aside.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show that Judge Merchan will stand to benefit from the outcome of this trial,” Evans said.

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Published 16 April 2024, 00:53 IST

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