Trump Again Calls For Hush Money Judge To Recuse Himself After Gag Order Expanded

Former President Donald Trump once again called for the judge overseeing his hush money case in New York to recuse himself, his latest attempt to see the case delayed indefinitely rather than go to trial.

Trump’s attorneys filed a letter on Monday arguing that Judge Juan Merchan was subject to a conflict of interest over his daughter’s work for a political consultant that has Democratic clients. The former president attacked Merchan and his daughter, Loren Merchan, in recent days on social media to the point the judge expanded a limited gag order against Trump over the course of the case.

“Your Honor’s daughter is an executive and partner at Authentic Campaigns, Inc.,” Trump’s attorneys wrote to the judge. “Authentic and Your Honor’s daughter are making money by supporting the creation and dissemination of campaign advocacy for President Trump’s opponent, political rivals, and the Democratic Party.”

“It can no longer be ignored that Authentic’s commercial interest are benefited by developments in this case that harm President Trump’s penal interests.”

Prosecutors on the case rejected Trump’s claims in their own filing on Tuesday.

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this Court’s family member, let alone this Court,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office wrote.

Trump had argued late last year for Merchan’s removal, but the judge rejected the attempt and said his impartiality in the case could not “reasonably be questioned.” He added that the former president had “failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required.”

Merchan on Monday expanded his gag order against Trump after the former president took to Truth Social to attack his daughter in a series of increasingly pointed posts. He falsely claimed she had used an image of him behind bars in a social media account, then identified her by name and called her a “Rabid Trump Hater.”

The former president later posted a link to an article that included her picture.

The judge expanded the gag order just days later upon the urging of Bragg’s office, barring Trump from speaking about his family, the family of the district attorney, as well as his earlier order that blocked any public comments about jurors, court staff, witnesses or prosecutors.

Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Tuesday.
Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. ALEX WROBLEWSKI via Getty Images

Merchan said in his decision that Trump’s posts served “no legitimate purpose” that warranted him to be able to freely post about his family.

“It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game’ for Defendant’s vitriol,” Merchan wrote on Monday. “It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real.”

The hush money trial is the first set of Trump’s four criminal indictments set to go to trial when jury selection begins on April 15. The case centers on charges Trump paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign to quash her allegations of an extramarital affair.