Special counsel Jack Smith argued against Donald Trump’s request that US District Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself from the federal election subversion case against the former president, saying in a new filing that Trump had taken the judge’s comments in Capitol rioter cases “out of context in order to manufacture allegations of bias.”
Trump’s motion seeking Chutkan’s recusal centered on comments that the Obama appointee made about the former president during sentencing proceedings for two Capitol rioter defendants. Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office said in the filing Thursday that Trump’s recusal request “cherry-picks” Chutkan’s comments about him and that the judge’s past statements were not evidence of “improper bias or prejudgment of the current case.”
The prosecutors argued that Chutkan, in the rioter proceedings in question, was addressing attempts by the defendants to minimize their actions on January 6, 2021, by casting blame on Trump and others.
“In both instances, the Court was appropriately responding to—and ultimately rejecting— a common argument raised by scores of January 6 offenders: that they deserved leniency because their actions were inspired by, or were not as serious as, those of others who contributed to the riot but had not been held responsible—including former president Donald J. Trump, the defendant in this case,” the special counsel’s office said, while accusing Trump of attempting to cast Chutkan’s comments “in a sinister light.”
The prosecutors urged Chutkan to reject the recusal effort, arguing that Trump’s request fell well short of the legal standard for a judge to recuse himself or herself from a case.
The former president has until Sunday to file a reply to the special counsel’s arguments.