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Trump accuses Judge Tanya Chutkan of bias in federal election case

BusinessTrump accuses Judge Tanya Chutkan of bias in federal election case

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he campaigns at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. August 12, 2023. 

Scott Morgan | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump kicked off the week of his expected fourth indictment by railing against the judge overseeing the federal case charging him with illegally conspiring to subvert the 2020 election results.

In a pair of social media posts just after midnight on Monday, Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan as “highly partisan” and “very biased & unfair!”

“She obviously wants me behind bars,” Trump wrote on Truth Social at 1:14 a.m. ET.

That post was made in reference to Chutkan’s remarks from an October sentencing hearing for Christine Priola, one of the hundreds of people to face criminal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

“The people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man,” Chutkan said, according to a transcript of the hearing. “It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.”

Trump posted that quote in all caps less than an hour after midnight.

Later Monday morning, Trump vented rage at the prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, who is expected to bring her state-level election interference case before a grand jury this week. Trump even targeted former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a potential witness, as “a loser” and said he should not testify before that grand jury.

Numerous legal experts have told CNBC they expect Trump to face a gag order as he continues to inveigh against the constellation of figures related to his expanding legal troubles.

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The Capitol riot, carried out by a violent pro-Trump mob who believed his false claims of a “rigged” election, is central to special counsel Jack Smith’s second federal case against Trump. The former president appeared in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to be arraigned on the four-count indictment accusing him of trying to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

Trump’s latest salvo against Chutkan, who has garnered a reputation for giving tough sentences in Jan. 6-related cases, escalated his already-aggressive commentary about the criminal proceedings. Trump has previously claimed there is “no way he can get a fair trial” before Chutkan and has said he will seek a new judge and venue for the case.

The most recent posts came three days after she issued a protective order that limited what evidence Trump can share in the election interference case. Chutkan granted a request from Trump’s lawyers for a narrower protective order than what federal prosecutors had proposed, though she gave the Justice Department a say in the specific parameters of the order.

In that hearing, Chutkan warned Trump and his legal team not to post anything that could potentially impact the integrity of the case. “Even arguably ambiguous statements by the parties or their counsel, if they could be reasonably interpreted to intimidate witnesses or to prejudice potential jurors, can threaten the process,” she said.

Trump nevertheless fired off a social media fusillade over the weekend that decried his D.C. case and his other legal troubles.

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He shared a post on Sunday that included a photo of Chutkan and described her as “an Obama leftwing activist judge in DC, whose husband also got appointed by Obama as a DC judge.”

That post claimed Chutkan “openly admitted she’s running election interference against Trump.” It referenced the judge’s quote from Friday’s protective order hearing that Trump’s presidential campaign cannot take precedence over his criminal case. “If that means he can’t say exactly what he wants to say about witnesses in this case, that’s how it has to be,” she said.

On Friday evening, Trump posted a link to a blog post on a conservative website that promoted the idea of Chutkan’s recusal in the case.



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