Judge Assigned to Trump 2020 Election Case not Likely to be Sympathetic

August 2, 2023

Judge Tanya Chutkan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, has been appointed to preside over former President Trump’s criminal case related to the 2020 Election. 

Trump was indicted Tuesday by Special Counsel Jack Smith on four criminal counts related to his actions surrounding attempts to overturn the election and the related January 6, 2021 deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Judge Chutkan is an Obama appointee who was confirmed by the Senate in a 95-0 vote. 

A 61-year-old who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, Chutkin spent more than a decade as a public defender in DC before being confirmed as a federal trial judge in Washington in 2014.

Coincidentally, both she and Trump received their post-graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania—Chutkan from the law school, Trump from the business school. However, that may be the extent of their commonalities. 

In November 2021, Judge Chutkan forcefully rejected attempts by Trump to prevent the House Select January 6 Committee from gaining access to more than 700 pages of White House records.

In her ruling, Chutkan wrote, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Further, Chutkan has presided over dozens of criminal cases against some of the more than 1,069 people arrested related to the deadly January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

During one sentencing hearing, in December 2021, Chutkan referenced the upcoming 2024 Presidential election, stating, “[E]very day we are hearing about reports of anti-democratic factions, people plotting potential violence in 2024” and that it “has to be made clear that trying to stop the peaceful transition of power, assaulting law enforcement, is going to be met with certain punishment.”

Trump is running for reelection in 2024.

Further, Chutkan has made reference to Trump himself during various January 6 convicts’ sentencings, noting of at least one defendant that he “did not go to the United States Capitol out of any love for our country….He went for one man.”

And during an October 2021 sentencing hearing, she said, “The country is watching to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in the country before,” adding that the insurrectionists had “showed their contempt for the rule of law.”

However, she has avoided some of the more pointed criticisms against Trump, as compared to some of her colleagues who’ve also resided over January 6 cases. For instance, Judge Reggie Walton has called Trump a “charlatan” while Judge Amit Mehta has referred to January 6 defendants as Trump’s “pawns.”

However, she has described the “January 6 riot” as having posed a “very real danger…to the foundation of our democracy.”

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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