WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself, saying her past public statements about the former president and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol call into question whether she can be fair.
The recusal motion from Trump’s lawyers takes aim at U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama and has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of Jan. 6 defendants. The request is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, who is unlikely to see cause to step aside from the case.
Even so, the request that she give up the high-stakes trial marks the latest flashpoint in already delicate relations between the defense team and the judge, who has repeatedly cautioned against inflammatory public comments from Trump but has nonetheless been lambasted on social media by him. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team signaled its own concern about his comments, writing last week that Trump’s daily statements — he has derided her as “highly partisan” — could taint a potential jury pool.
Chutkan ordered Smith’s team to file any opposition to Trump’s recusal bid by Thursday.