Stefanik Urges Judge to Step Down from Trump’s Hush Money Trial Due to Conflict of Interest


House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is calling for the recusal of the judge in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York, alleging that the judge’s daughter is profiting from the indictment.

In an ethics complaint submitted to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Tuesday, Stefanik urges Judge Juan Merchan to step down from the case. She alleges that Merchan’s daughter is using the trial to generate funds through her fundraising agency. Other House Republicans have also criticized Merchan, claiming his daughter’s political affiliations create a conflict of interest.

“Judge Merchan currently presides over the criminal case against President Donald J. Trump brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg,” Stefanik wrote in the complaint. “If convicted, President Trump faces a maximum of 136 years’ imprisonment. Moreover, he is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for this November’s presidential election. As such, not only are President Trump’s interests at stake, the interests of all Americans are at stake.”

Stefanik, a staunch Trump supporter and potential vice presidential candidate, submitted the complaint just as the case is nearing its conclusion, reducing the likelihood of recusal.

Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is the president of Authentic Campaigns, a digital marketing and fundraising agency that supports various Democratic lawmakers and political action committees. Following Trump’s initial indictment in April 2023, many Democrats, including Loren Merchan’s clients, used the charges in their fundraising efforts.

Stefanik mentioned a fundraising email sent by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his Senate bid, in which Schiff used Trump’s indictment to solicit donations.

“It is a somber moment, and unprecedented for a former president to be indicted, but his alleged offenses are unprecedented,” the email stated. “Trump will respond as he always does—playing the victim and blaming others for having the temerity to investigate him in the first place.”

Stefanik also noted similar fundraising efforts by the Senate Majority PAC, another client of Authentic Campaigns.

Since then, Schiff and the committee have reportedly raised around $20 million and $73.6 million, respectively.

“In other words, the clients of Judge Merchan’s daughter have raked in nearly $100 million and have used President Trump’s indictment—a case over which her father presides—as fundraising fodder,” Stefanik wrote. “It is common sense that, if these groups make no money, they cannot afford to pay for services provided by individuals such as Ms. Merchan. The more money raised, the more it can be spent on services.”

Stefanik contends that under the Rules of Judicial Conduct for the New York State Unified Court System, Merchan should recuse himself. The rules state that a judge must disqualify themselves if they, or someone closely connected to them, have an interest that could be significantly affected by the proceeding.

Stefanik argued that a conviction of Trump could result in a “fundraising windfall” for Democrats, including Merchan’s daughter, necessitating the judge’s recusal to avoid any potential conflict of interest. She warned that failing to do so could undermine the “court’s appearance of impartiality.”

“It is imperative that New Yorkers and all Americans have confidence that justice is being dispensed fairly in New York,” the complaint states. “This is especially true in politically sensitive cases where bias is most likely to rear its ugly head. Here, we are in the middle of a presidential election campaign. The circumstances are unprecedented: President Trump, a former president and the likely nominee of a major party for the presidency, is on trial.”

The complaint comes as Trump’s hush-money trial enters its sixth week, marking the first criminal indictment of a former president in U.S. history.

The New York case involves 34 counts of falsifying business records, stemming from Michael Cohen’s 2018 conviction, where he pleaded guilty to paying two women, including porn star Stormy Daniels, to remain silent about their alleged affairs with Trump.

As part of the scheme, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 and was later reimbursed by the Trump Organization. Manhattan prosecutors are investigating whether Trump falsified business records to classify the reimbursement as a legal expense.

Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux
Congressional Reporter. A Utah native, Cami graduated from Westminster College in Salt Lake City in 2021 and covered state government as a breaking news reporter for KSL News Radio.

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