Former US President Donald Trump requested this Monday the recusal of the judge in charge of the case in which he is accused of conspiring to annul the 2020 elections.
Judge Tanya Chutkan should leave the proceedings because of statements she made in the past about the former president that demonstrate her bias, Trump's lawyers said in a court filing.
"In relation to other cases, the judge has suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned," they said. "Such statements, made before this case began and without due process, are inherently disqualifying."
"While he may have a genuine intention to give President Trump a fair trial (...), his public statements inevitably taint these proceedings, regardless of the outcome," they added.
Jurists considered it unlikely that the motion would succeed because it is Chutkan herself who would have to voluntarily agree to withdraw from the case.
Last month, Chutkan set March 4, 2024 as the date to begin trying Trump for conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
A favorite for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In calling for the judge's recusal, Trump's lawyers cited her comments in rulings against supporters of the former president accused of storming the Capitol in January 2021.
In an October 2022 sentencing against a woman for her role in the attack, Chutkan described that action as "an attempt to violently overthrow the government."
In an apparent allusion to Trump, he added that the defendant was inspired by "blind loyalty to a person who, by the way, is still free today."
"His comments suggest that he concluded, before this case, that President Trump is more deserving of a prison sentence than the defendant he was sentencing," the former president's lawyers said.
"Judge Chutkan should recuse herself from this case and order that this matter be randomly assigned to another judge," they added.
– 'Presidents are not kings' –
Trump called the judge “highly partisan” and “prejudicial and unfair.”
61 years old, this judge appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama has issued strong sentences against assailants at the headquarters of Congress in Washington.
He also has a history of litigation with Trump. In November 2021, he ruled against them, saying that “presidents are not kings.”