Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking that Tanya S. Chutkan, the U.S. district judge appointed by Obama preside over the federal case of election obstruction brought in federal court by partisan prosecutor Jack Smith.
Judge Chutkan, in other cases, has suggested that President Trump be imprisoned or prosecuted. The filing states that such statements made without due process and before the case started are inherently unqualified. “Judge Chutkan’s public statements, even if she believes that she is capable of giving President Trump a fair hearing and intends to do so, will unavoidably taint the proceedings regardless of their outcome.” The public is entitled to question if Judge Chutkan made her decisions on this matter in an impartial manner or because she was attempting to fulfill her previous negative statements about President Trump.
Stephen Gillers is a professor of legal ethics at the New York University School of Law. He believes that the motion will be rejected despite Chutkan’s obvious bias. This should have disqualified Chutkan from presiding over the case from the start.
He told the Washington Post that he understood why Trump wanted a different judge and venue. But nothing he had heard, including the fact Judge Chutkan had sentenced other January 6 defendants harshly, would justify a recusal.
Chutkan is known to make partisan remarks about the Capitol Riot. Chutkan stated, in December 2021, that rioter Robert Palmer went to the Capitol to protest the results of the election despite them being clear. He didn’t approve of the results, and he did not want to see the transfer of power because his man lost.
Chutkan, in October 2022, falsely described the Capitol Riot as “nothing more than an attempt by people who were angry that their guy had lost, to violently overthrow a government, the lawfully elected, peacefully governed government.”
She continued, “I see the videotapes. I see the footage of the flags and the signs that people were carrying the hats they were wearing and the garb. And the people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man — not to the Constitution, of which most of the people who come before me seem woefully ignorant; not to the ideals of this country; and not to the principles of democracy. It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.”
These comments were both cited. Gillers, however, says that “things like what is said or did within the four corners of a case she is a judge in cannot be a reason for recusal, because she’s just doing her job.” Judges do that.