The judge who will be hearing the Trump case in Manhattan is riddled with conflicts of interest from making political contributions to the fact that his daughter worked for the Biden/Harris campaign. It is even worse than that as he has violated ethics laws that prevent him from engaging in anything political. No contributions, no endorsements, and no campaigning. According to data received by the FEC Merchan contributed to Act Blue targeting three groups, “Stop The Republicans,” “Biden For President,” and “Progressive Turnout Project.”
Even though the amounts of money were small, they are clearly an ethics violation and demonstrate a clear bias against President Trump.
The Gateway Pundit reports:
“Although the dollar amounts were what some would be considered small, this proves impartiality towards Donald Trump. Donating to both the former and future expected counterpart on the presidential ballot is a huge deal, and something that cannot go unnoticed.”
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.”
The New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics’s yearly-updated handbook makes this clear, stating:
A sitting judge may not make political contributions at any time, even to a U.S. presidential candidate or to a federal congressional candidate outside of New York State (Opinion 11-146; 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][h]).
Furthermore, the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct states that unless permitted by law, a judge shall not “solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or a candidate for public office.”
Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University, said that New York, like most US states, has adopted language from the American Bar Association Code of Judicial Conduct which clearly states that judges are not allowed to make political contributions.
Gillers told CNN:
“The contribution to Biden and possibly the one to ‘Stop Republicans’ would be forbidden unless there is some other explanation that would allow them.”
“Violations can lead to a warning, private discipline, public discipline and more serious sanctions like removal. Serious discipline (e.g. removal) is decided by the N.Y. Court of Appeals.”
Giller told CNN that the amount of the donation would be “viewed as trivial” and would “absolutely not” be grounds for recusal. But other legal experts disagreed per Breitbart.
Brett Tolman, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah and former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Breitbart News that Merchan’s violation should lead to his investigation and recusal.
“This should facilitate a judicial misconduct investigation and the Judge should recuse because of such,” Tolman told Breitbart News on Wednesday.
Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told CNN the donations may have created the “appearance of a conflict.”
“Judge Merchan has a reputation of being a fair down the middle judge, however, donating to a defendant’s political rival can cause the appearance of a conflict, even where there is none, and creates an unforced error, in this case involving Trump,” she said.
Tolman said the appearance of a conflict could necessitate a recusal.
“A judge has two issues to address which could necessitate a recusal. First, is to determine if there is an actual conflict and second, if not an actual conflict, the judge must determine if recusal is needed to ‘avoid the appearance of a conflict,’” he said, adding, “I believe under either analysis, Judge Merchan should recuse himself. He has direct conflict by making financial investment in the direct opponent of Trump, an announced candidate for President. Secondly, the appearance of conflict looms large in this case given the donations, prior cases against Trump, and his daughter’s conflicts.”