Judge in Trump’s Criminal Trial Declines to Recuse Himself

Juan M. Merchan, the judge overseeing Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, has declined to step aside from the case, rejecting the former president’s effort to delay the trial and attack his integrity.

The judge announced the decision in the opening minutes of Mr. Trump’s trial on Monday morning. After Justice Merchan rules on a variety of legal issues, the trial will begin in earnest with jury selection.

“There is no agenda here,” Justice Merchan said Monday before rejecting the request. “We want to follow the law,” he added. “We want justice to be done.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had called on Justice Merchan to recuse himself in a recent court filing, citing his daughter’s work as a Democratic political consultant.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the case that accuses Mr. Trump of falsifying records to conceal a sex scandal from voters, had argued that no conflict of interest existed. And judicial ethics experts cast doubt on Mr. Trump’s request, noting that the judge was not responsible for his daughter’s career.

It was just the latest attempt by Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, to both delay the trial and oust Justice Merchan. Nor will it be the last: In a separate civil action filed last week, Mr. Trump asked an appeals court to pause the case while it considers whether to remove Justice Merchan. It is a long-shot bid that a single appeals court judge rejected and will be likely to fail before a full five-judge panel.

When Mr. Trump tried last year to have Justice Merchan kicked off the case, Justice Merchan rejected it then as well, citing a state advisory committee on judicial ethics that determined that his impartiality could not reasonably be questioned based on his daughter’s interests.

The repeated attempts reflect the former president’s long-running effort to delay all four of his criminal cases past Election Day. Stalling is one of Mr. Trump’s favored legal tactics, and he uses it liberally in Manhattan, as well as in the three other cities where he faces criminal charges. If Mr. Trump reclaims the White House, the criminal cases against him would most likely grind to a halt.

In the attempt in appeals court to compel the judge’s recusal, Emil Bove, a lawyer for the former president, argued that certain facts had changed since Justice Merchan first declined to step aside last year, including that Mr. Trump was now the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

But a lawyer for the court system, Lisa Evans, said that there was no reason that the judge should step aside.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show that Judge Merchan will stand to benefit from the outcome of this trial,” Ms. Evans said.

Back to top button