Trump appealing to block judge assigned to hush money trial because he jailed Trump Organization CFO in another case
Donald Trump has lashed out at the judge assigned to the case against him relating to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Following Thursday evening’s surprise indictment of the former president — which reportedly caught him and his team off guard — Mr Trump has been angrily sharing his grievances about the situation on his social media platform, Truth Social.
On Friday morning he turned his attention to Judge Juan Merchan who will take up the case when it reaches court.
Close watchers of Mr Trump’s ongoing legal woes will be familiar with Judge Merchan for presiding over both the tax fraud trial of the Trump Organization and the trial of the company’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg in late 2022.
The former president posted: “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.”
“His name is Juan Manuel Marchan [sic], was hand picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors, & is the same person who ‘railroaded’ my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a ‘plea’ deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail,” he wrote.
“He strong armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn’t ‘plead’, VICIOUSLY,” Mr Trump concluded, adding: “APPEALING!”
In November, Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison and five years post-release supervision after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.
At his sentencing, Judge Merchan slammed Weisselberg for his “offensive” greed and said that he would have handed down a harsher sentence if he hadn’t made an agreement as part of a plea.
“Had I not made the promise, I would be imposing a sentence much greater than that,” he said.
In the Trump Organization’s trial, the judge hit the company with the highest possible fine at its sentencing in January of this year.
Two subsidiaries of the Trump Organization – Trump Corp and Trump Payroll Corp. — were convicted on 17 counts, including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records, for running a 15-year tax fraud scheme.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to hand down the highest possible fines under the law.
Judge Merchan agreed, fining the entities $1.6m in total.
Mr Merchan serves as an acting justice with the New York State Supreme Court – a position he has occupied since 2009.
The Colombian native moved to the US as a child and grew up in Queens, New York City, as Mr Trump also did.
He studied at Baruch College and then Hofstra University School of Law before beginning his legal career as a Manhattan assistant district attorney in 1994.
After this, he worked in the State Attorney General’s office and was then appointed to the Bronx Family Court bench in 2006 – before joining the state’s highest court three years later.
Besides these cases with ties to Mr Trump, the judge has also dealt with other high-profile cases.
In 2012, the judge presided over the case known as the “Soccer mom madam” where Anna Gristina pleaded guilty to charges of running a Manhattan girl ring for millionaires.
The former president is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan on Tuesday, with a tentative hearing time set for 2.15pm before Judge Merchan.