Jack Smith responds to Trump request for Judge Chutkan’s recusal

September 15, 2023

Special Counsel Jack Smith responded Thursday to Trump’s request for Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself from the former President’s federal trial related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

In a 20-page motion filed in U.S. District Court for Washington DC, Smith wrote, “There is no valid basis, under the relevant law and facts, for the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan, United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, to disqualify herself in this proceeding.”

He added, “To mount a successful recusal claim based on the cited statements, the defendant must show that they display a deep-seated animosity toward him. The defendant cannot meet this heavy burden.”

Trump’s attorneys in the case filed their motion for the judge’s recusal on Monday, asserting that past statements by 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.

Smith in his Thursday motion countered that “because the defendant cannot point to any statements expressing actual bias, all he can say—and he says it repeatedly—is that the Court’s comments ‘suggest’ some sort of bias or prejudice toward the defendant.”

The special counsel further goes on to say, “Tellingly, the defendant does not cite a single case in which recusal has been warranted on remotely similar facts.”

Trump’s request is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, herself.

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

Trump has pleaded not guilty to four federal 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 racketeering case related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. 

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

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