Trump wants new judge in New York criminal case

Attorneys for former President Donald Trump are asking the judge overseeing his New York criminal case to recuse himself, citing what a spokesperson called “significant conflicts.”

The motion asking Judge Juan Merchan to step aside, which is not yet publicly available, is the latest effort by Trump’s team to get a different judge to preside over the case. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 state felony counts of falsification of business records.His team has already filed paperwork seeking to move the case to federal court, a move opposed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The case against Trump is focused on an alleged effort to cover up a “hush money” payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels made days before the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors have said the evidence in the case includes records showing a scheme to obscure the source of the payments and recordings, including one of Trump and a witness.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign claimed in a statement that Merchan’s “significant conflicts” include his daughter’s work for a Democratic consulting firm.

“The Judge’s daughter stands to significantly financially benefit from a decision her father may make because of her direct efforts with Joe Biden’s campaign,” said the spokesperson, who also cited a pair of donations — totaling $35 — that Merchan made to Democratic groups during the 2020 election cycle.

Last year, Merchan presided over the trial of two Trump Organization companies that were found guilty of 17 counts related to criminal tax evasion. The spokesperson said Trump’s motion accuses Merchan of encouraging the prosecution’s key witness in that case, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, to testify against the companies.

Weisselberg was charged along with the companies in the case, but pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. The 75-year-old was recently released after serving 100 days in New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Bragg’s office has shown renewed interest in securing more cooperation from Weisselberg, according to a source familiar with his legal situation, and signaling that additional charges related to alleged false statements could be on the table.

An attorney for Weisselberg could not be reached.

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