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Trump is trying to sidestep gag order and delay hush money trial with ‘last-ditch’ bid to remove judge, DA says

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone at the 18th green during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational – Miami at Trump National Doral Miami on April 07, 2024 in Doral, Florida. 
Megan Briggs | Getty Images

The latest bid by Donald Trump to remove the judge in his criminal hush money case is a bad-faith effort to delay his upcoming trial and sidestep a gag order barring him from speaking about the judge’s daughter, the Manhattan district attorney said Monday.

Trump’s “rewarmed” arguments for New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan’s recusal offer nothing new from a prior attempt to get a new judge, DA Alvin Bragg wrote in a court filing.

Rather, Bragg argued, the current recusal motion is a “last-ditch” bid to postpone the trial that appears “transparently reverse-engineered” to justify Trump’s spate of recent attacks on Merchan’s adult daughter.

It’s “an effort to end-run” the gag order and “pollute the court” with attacks against the judge and his family “as part of a meritless effort to call the integrity of these proceedings into question,” Bragg wrote.

The trial is set to begin jury selection on April 15. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to conceal a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s lawyers, in court filings Friday, argued that Authentic Campaigns, the Democratic consulting firm where Merchan’s daughter works, stands to benefit from the hush money case by using it to raise money and promote an anti-Trump message.

“Personal political views may not be a basis for recusal. But profiting from the promotion of a political agenda that is hostile to President Trump, and has included fundraising solicitations based on this case, must be,” they wrote.

Bragg, in Monday’s filing, called it “pure speculation to assume that rulings by this Court would affect Authentic’s contracts or revenue.” Even if the company were fundraising off the trial, it still wouldn’t be a sufficient basis for the judge’s recusal, Bragg added.

The filing came days after Merchan expanded a gag order on Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to prohibit him from making statements about the judge’s family members that could interfere with the case. Merchan also amended the order to bar Trump from speaking about Bragg’s family members.

The strengthened gag order came after Trump sent a spate of social media posts targeting Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, over her political work and claiming it proved the judge was biased.

Trump also accused Loren Merchan of controlling an X account that displayed a photo depicting Trump behind jail cell bars. New York’s court administration office denied that the judge’s daughter controlled that account at the time it posted that picture.

Judge Merchan wrote in the order that people watching Trump’s attacks may conclude that their loved ones may come under fire if they get involved in the case. The situation constitutes “a direct attack on the Rule of Law itself,” he wrote.

The judge last summer had rejected Trump’s first recusal request, which also focused on Loren Merchan’s political activities.

Bragg, in Monday’s filing, argued that Trump’s current recusal motion makes “identical” arguments, adding that the few points it includes that were not previously made are “wholly meritless.”

The hush money case is set to be the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to head to trial. The former president’s lawyers have repeatedly tried to dismiss or delay all of those cases while he runs to unseat Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden.

This post has been syndicated from a third-party source. View the original article here.

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