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Trump’s bid to remove judge in hush-money case is rejected

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan declined to recuse himself from overseeing former President Donald Trump’s hush-money case in New York, ruling Monday that Trump “has failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate.”

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Merchan rejected all of Trump’s arguments for his removal from the case, including that the judge’s daughter could financially benefit from the case because she runs a digital marketing agency that works with Democratic Party candidates.

“The speculative and hypothetical scenarios offered by Defendant fall well short of the legal standard,” Merchan wrote.

The judge also rejected Trump’s argument that Merchan should be recused because of how he oversaw a prior criminal case involving the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. Trump accused the judge of engaging in inappropriate conduct in the negotiations of Weisselberg’s guilty plea, but the judge faulted Trump’s defense team for turning in “inaccurate and misleading” information.

The Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud in the case, and Weisselberg pleaded guilty.

A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to comment on Merchan’s ruling on the recusal Monday.

Trump also sought unsuccessfully to move the hush money case into federal court, but a federal judge rejected that effort last month.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in May.

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