Donald Trump’s legal team has filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, appointed by former President Obama, to step down from overseeing the federal election obstruction case brought forward by prosecutor Jack Smith.
The basis for this request is Judge Chutkan’s perceived bias against Trump, as they believe she has previously implied that Trump should face prosecution and jail time.
The motion argues, “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.”
Chutkan’s past statements, notably during the sentencing of Capitol rioter Robert Palmer in December 2021, and another comment in October 2022 describing the Capitol riot, have been cited as evidence of this bias.
Despite these claims, Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at NYU School of Law, expressed skepticism about the success of the recusal motion. He stated that actions within the “four corners of a case” shouldn’t be grounds for recusal since the judge is merely performing her duties. Gillers told the Washington Post that nothing he’s seen so far warrants a recusal.