Former President Trump on Monday formally demanded the recusal of the federal judge overseeing his 2020 election subversion case in Washington, D.C.
Trump’s attorneys cited statements U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan made while sentencing two previous Jan. 6 defendants that appeared to reference Trump, arguing the comments create a perception that Chutkan prejudged Trump’s guilt before he was charged.
“Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in court filings.
“Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying,” they continued. “Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial — and may believe that she can do so — her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome.”
The Hill left a message with Chutkan’s chambers requesting comment on the former president’s recusal motion.
Trump faces four criminal counts in the case stemming from his alleged efforts to remain in power following the 2020 election. Trump pleaded not guilty last month.
It isn’t the first time Trump has attacked the judges overseeing his criminal cases. He previously unsuccessfully sought the recusal of the judge overseeing his hush money criminal case in New York, and Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Chutkan and other judges on Truth Social. He and his team previously indicated they would seek Chutkan’s recusal in this case.
Trump’s motion Monday took aim at two statements Chutkan made while sentencing Jan. 6 defendants.
In October 2022, Chutkan chided Ohio Jan. 6 defendant Christine Priola during her sentencing that she and other rioters offered “blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day,” according to a hearing transcript.
Months earlier, Trump’s lawyers said Chutkan suggested that Trump was responsible for the Capitol attack and should be prosecuted when sentencing Florida Jan. 6 rioter Robert Palmer to what was, at the time, the longest sentence handed down in connection with the riot.
“And it is true, Mr. Palmer — you have made a very good point, one that has been made before — that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged,” Chutkan said, according to the hearing transcript.
She went on to note that it was not her role to decide who is charged.
Trump has publicly criticized Chutkan before, claiming she “obviously wants me behind bars,” and is “very biased and unfair.” He has also speculated that there is “no way” he will receive a fair trial under the federal judge and previewed he would file the recusal motion.
Chutkan was randomly assigned to Trump’s case after he was indicted on four criminal charges. An Obama appointee, she has given out tough sentences to Jan. 6 defendants, either matching or exceeding the sentences for which prosecutors asked.
“Public statements of this sort create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “In a case this widely watched, of such monumental significance, the public must have the utmost confidence that the Court will administer justice neutrally and dispassionately. Judge Chutkan’s pre-case statements undermine that confidence and, therefore, require disqualification.”
This story was updated at 5:15 p.m.