The Manhattan judge overseeing the case concerning alleged secret payments by ex-President Trump has declined to step down, despite requests from Trump’s defense team.
Judge Juan Merchan is confident in his capacity to remain “unbiased and just” and dismissed the plea by Trump’s attorneys who suggested he step aside. They cited minor contributions Merchan made to Democratic efforts in the 2020 election as potential bias.
The lawsuit involves purported payments Trump made to actress Stormy Daniels prior to his 2016 election campaign.
In the 2020 election cycle, Merchan contributed $15 to Joe Biden’s campaign, $10 to the Progressive Turnout Project, and another $10 to an organization named Stop Republicans.
Highlighting Merchan’s potential bias, Trump’s counsel also brought up the fact that Merchan’s daughter is the head of a digital agency that worked for Biden’s campaign.
However, Merchan defended his position, pointing to insights from the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, which he had engaged with before the recusal appeal by Trump.
The committee remarked, “Based on our assessment, there’s no evidence to indicate that the case’s results could impact the judge, his family member’s business, or any of their interests.”
Merchan also addressed accusations of personal prejudice, asserting that Trump’s defense hadn’t provided a substantial rationale.
“The defense hasn’t shown any concrete, or even plausible grounds for a recusal to be deemed necessary. Their presented scenarios are more conjectural than meeting the actual legal threshold,” Merchan stated.
The court hearing is set for March 2024. This case is just one among four legal challenges the ex-president is presently dealing with.