Trump attorneys request recusal of DC Federal Judge

September 12, 2023

Attorneys for former President Trump on Monday filed a motion to recuse U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan from their client’s federal trial related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump’s attorneys assert that past statements by Judge Chutkan about Trump and his connection to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol raise questions about her ability to be fair. 

The request is a long shot given not just the high threshold for recusal but because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, herself.

The judge has set a March 4 start date for the trial and is unlikely to see cause to step aside.

Trump is facing four criminal counts surrounding attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights. 

The federal case is one of four ongoing prosecutions of the former President, who altogether faces a total of 91 criminal counts, including 31 charges in a state-level case related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. 

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

In the federal election case, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office last week issued a warning about continuing provocative comments that Trump has made regarding both  Smith’s team and Judge Chutkan.

Last month, Chutkan issued a protective order that restricts Trump from disclosing sensitive materials in the case, including grand jury or witness information. At that hearing, Chutkan warned Trump against further “inflammatory statements” saying she would do what she deemed necessary to keep him from intimidating witnesses or tainting potential jurors—including taking the case to trial more quickly if the protective order is breached. 

The Department of Justice had requested the protective order after Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, in all caps, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

Less than a week after that hearing, a Texas woman was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Judge Chutkan. 

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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