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Trump Legal News: Go Away Scary Monster

That's a real song, and since Donald Trump is clearly scared witless of Judge Tanya Chutkan, it fits our purposes. It is, we must note, a children's song, which means... well, it's probably particularly apropos for the former president.

In any event, we give quite a bit of attention to Trump's various legal woes, and his various legal maneuvers. He is undoubtedly on the cusp of unleashing a flurry of grasping-at-straws motions in the next several months, and we wonder if it's worth even taking note of all of them, unless one happens to actually succeed. We're not at the "just ignore it" point yet, however, so we will pass along the news that his legal team has asked Chutkan to remove herself from the case because she's biased against Trump.

The actual motion is here, if you care to read it. Trump's attorneys are clever enough to tread delicately:

Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned. Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying. Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial—and may believe that she can do so—her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome. The public will reasonably and understandably question whether Judge Chutkan arrived at all of her decisions in this matter impartially, or in fulfillment of her prior negative statements regarding President Trump. Under these circumstances, the law and the overwhelming public interest in the integrity of this historic proceeding require recusal.

That said, "we don't think you can be fair and impartial" is still "we don't think you can be fair and impartial," even if you deliver that assessment with a whole truckload of sugar.

The odds that Chutkan agrees to recuse are very small. It is true that judges are supposed to step aside if "impartiality [can] be reasonably questioned." But in practice, this refers to activities outside the courtroom that speak to biases that might manifest themselves inside the courtroom. Think having a spouse who tries to swing an election for a particular political candidate, or taking luxury vacations from a billionaire benefactor. It is virtually unheard of for a decision in case #1, no matter how strongly worded, to support the conclusion that a judge is simply not capable of being fair in case #2.

Trump is not generally able to get top-flight counsel anymore, but even his second-tier lawyers surely know that their chances of success here are close to zero. Are they using an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, since they might get lucky once or twice, and the hours are just as billable even if the motions fail? Or did Trump, as part of his ongoing carping about Chutkan's biases, insist that the motion be filed? Our guess it that it's option #2. (Z)

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