In a recent ruling, federal judge Tanya Chutkan has rejected a motion from former President Donald Trump’s legal team to disqualify herself from overseeing his federal 2020 election subversion criminal case. Judge Chutkan, who was appointed by Barack Obama and has previously presided over cases related to the January 6 Capitol attack, outlined her approach to previous riot defendants appearing before her and explained why she mentioned Trump during those hearings. Despite Trump’s arguments that Chutkan’s previous comments demonstrated bias against him, the judge stated that these comments did not indicate a prejudice that would hinder fair judgment.
Judge Chutkan, known for exceeding prosecutors’ requested sentences for convicted rioters, has also presided over civil litigation involving the January 6 insurrection. In one notable case, she rejected Trump’s attempt to block the House select committee investigating the attack from accessing records from his White House, stating that presidents are not above the law. In her ruling, Chutkan clarified that she had never taken a position suggesting that Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned, contrary to the defense’s claims.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s team criticized Trump’s lawyers for taking Chutkan’s comments out of context to manufacture allegations of bias. Smith’s team argued that Chutkan’s remarks were in response to defendants who downplayed their actions on January 6 by shifting blame onto Trump and other political leaders. Overall, the judge’s ruling emphasizes her commitment to impartiality and fair judgment in the high-profile case.