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Tipsheet

Mistrial? Will the Judge Presiding Over the Trump Case Face an Ethics Violation?

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Mia covered the conflict of interest surrounding the judge presiding over the case against former President Donald Trump. Trump was arraigned last week, indicted on shoddy charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over Trump's hush money scheme with ex-porn star Stormy Daniels. As we’ve explained ad nauseum, the law violations at play here are misdemeanors whose statute of limitations had expired, but Bragg argued former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the COVID pandemic stopped the clock on those charges, which were then elevated to felonies after some careful legalese. In other words, it’s a politically biased hatchet job and gross prosecutorial overreach, but you knew that. After all the Byzantine language, Bragg is alleging the Stormy Daniels arrangement was an election finance violation, which is laughable. Trump frolicking with adult entertainers wasn’t going to impact the election. 

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Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign also had a flurry of election law violations—where’s his indictment? That’s right; his campaign paid a fine. That should be what happens here since what Trump is facing hardly ever goes to trial, nor is significant jail time ever doled out. So, now that we’ve recapped this circus of an indictment. Let’s get into Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, whose daughter, Loren, is part of a progressive political operation that has raised over $250 million for Democratic candidates, including Biden-Harris. She was also a campaign staffer for Kamala Harris. As Cathell noted, Merchan also donated three times to Democrats in 2020, which could warrant an ethics violation, if we’re going to follow the rule of law (via Breitbart): 


Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing former President Donald Trump’s case in Manhattan, violated New York’s Code of Judicial Conduct by making three donations to Democrats in 2020, which could be grounds for an ethics investigation, according to several legal experts and former prosecutors. 

Under Section 100.5 of the New York Code of Judicial Conduct, sitting judges cannot “directly or indirectly engage in any political activity.” Prohibited political activity includes “(h) soliciting funds for, paying an assessment to, or making a contribution to a political organization or candidate.” 

[…] 

According to the FEC records, Merchan donated $15.00 to Biden for President — the campaign of Trump’s opponent, on July 26, 2020, via ActBlue. 

On July 27, 2020, he donated $10.00 to Progressive Turnout Project, an organization dedicated to turning out Democrat voters, and $10.00 to Stop Republicans, a part of Progressive Turnout Project “dedicated to resisting the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s radical right-wing legacy,” also via ActBlue. 

According to Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert and law professor at New York University, such donations are forbidden. 

“The contribution to Biden and possibly the one to ‘Stop Republicans’ would be forbidden unless there is some other explanation that would allow them,” Gillers told CNN on Thursday. 

Gillers told Breitbart News in an email on Wednesday that violations of the N.Y. Code of Judicial Conduct would be investigated by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and could potentially result in removal. 

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Of course, other legal analysts disagree, but that’s not the point. This case must be ironclad, with everyone involved being beyond reproach. Instead, we have a liberal DA working in a viciously anti-Trump city using a rabidly antagonistic grand jury to indict a former president, with a judge who is soaked in political bias and might have committed an offense worthy of an ethics probe and removal from the case. That’s not exactly a banner start, nor does it reinforce the public’s perception of this legal action. And there was a felony committed before the arraignment of Mr. Trump: someone leaked that he was facing 34 charges, which is a crime. Divulging privileged grand jury information is a felony. We all knew this would be a fiasco, and we must wait until December 4 for the second act.

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