Lawyers defending Donald Trump in his hush-money case have asked presiding judge Juan Merchan to recuse himself from the proceedings taking place in New York, claiming that he is ruling with bias.

Trump has repeatedly referred to Merchan as a “Trump-hating judge” as part of his campaign against the prosecutors of his criminal case. In April 2023, the former president was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records reflecting an apparent deal to cover up allegations of affairs. He pleaded not guilty on all counts.

According to Trump’s lawyers, Merchan has a conflict of interest in this case because of his daughter, who works for the digital agency Authentic. This firm has previously enlisted Democratic officials such as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as clients, and is known for supporting progressive campaigns.

Trump’s defense team has claimed that Merchan’s ruling could “result in financial benefit” for his daughter, as she “stands to profit from a conviction against former President Trump.”

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In addition, Merchan has been accused of acting with bias in previous rulings. He allegedly urged the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, to cooperate against Trump by pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2022. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were indicted and found guilty in a trial in which Merchan presided.

Merchan is also being asked to publicly disclose political contributions made in his name over the years. He was found to have made three contributions through nonprofit ActBlue during the 2020 presidential campaign: he donated $10 to Progressive Turnout Project, $10 to Stop Republicans and $15 to Biden’s campaign.

As Trump lawyers Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche wrote in their court filing, “This case before this Court is historic and it is important that the People of the State of New York and this nation have the confidence that the jurist who presides over it is impartial.”

Court representatives have declined to comment on the matter, as it is pending before a judge. The trial is set to be held next March, but the actual decision to recuse will be up to Merchan himself.

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