3/3 © Reuters. U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith makes a statement to reporters after a grand jury at Smith’s offices in Wa 2/3 issued an indictment against former U.S. President Donald Trump as part of the special counsel’s investigation into efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat , rejected
By Andrew Goudsward
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. special counsel Jack Smith on Thursday rejected Donald Trump’s request to remove the federal judge overseeing the criminal case, accusing the former U.S. president of trying to undermine the results of the 2020 election.
Smith, whose office is prosecuting the case against Trump, said there was “no valid basis” for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself from the case because of previous statements she made in court that appeared to relate to Trump’s responsibility for the act on January 6th was related. 2021, attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, filed a legal motion on Monday asking Chutkan to withdraw from the proceedings, arguing that her previous statements had raised questions about her impartiality and would prejudice the proceedings.
The filing cited statements Chutkan made at two sentencing hearings for defendants convicted of participating in the Capitol riot, including one in which she said the rioters were motivated by “blind loyalty to one person , which, by the way, remains free to this day”.
Trump has frequently criticized Chutkan on social media since she was put in charge of the case.
The case, which accuses Trump of three plots to overturn his defeat by Democratic President Joe Biden, is one of four criminal cases Trump faces on his path to retaking the White House. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and accused prosecutors of political motives.
Chutkan, an appointee of former Democratic President Barack Obama, has strongly condemned the attack on the Capitol and given some rioters harsher sentences than prosecutors had sought.
U.S. prosecutors said Chutkan’s comments do not overcome the high legal hurdles that require federal judges to recuse themselves from a case. Judges typically reject it if they have a financial interest in the outcome or a personal connection to one of the parties involved.
Chutkan will make the first decision on whether to step down.
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