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Trump mounts new push to recuse judge in hush money case

Former President Trump on Friday demanded his hush money judge recuse himself from the upcoming trial, now less than two weeks away, over his daughter’s firm’s digital marketing work for prominent Democrats. 

Last summer, Justice Juan Merchan rejected an earlier recusal motion that also cited his daughter’s employment. 

Trump’s second attempt comes after Merchan limited Trump’s public statements about the judge’s daughter and others. The judge has also grown perturbed by Trump’s last-minute tactics to stave off the April 15 start date, which is slated to be the former president’s first criminal trial.

“Personal political views may not be a basis for recusal. But profiting from the promotion of a political agenda that is hostile to President Trump, and has included fundraising solicitations based on this case, must be,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a 37-page motion. “Accordingly, President Trump respectfully requests that the Court recuse itself.” 

In less than two weeks, jury selection is scheduled to begin to determine whether Trump falsified business records to criminally cover up a 2016 hush money payment to a porn actress who alleged a sexual encounter with Trump. Trump, who denies the affair, pleaded not guilty. 

Since being indicted roughly a year ago, Trump and his legal team have repeatedly taken aim at Loren Merchan’s employment at Authentic, a progressive digital agency that has boasted the Biden-Harris campaign and other prominent Democrats as clients. 

The former president’s lawyers noted that clients like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is running to represent California in the Senate, have used language in their digital marketing explicitly fundraising off of Trump’s legal woes. 

Last year, Merchan rejected Trump’s original recusal motion that cited his daughter’s employment and $35 in donations the judge made during the 2020 campaign cycle to the Biden campaign and two liberal-leaning groups. 

The judge said he had received guidance from a state ethics advisory committee that he didn’t need to step aside. 

On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office said there were “no changed circumstances” that warrant revisiting Merchan’s refusal. 

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