GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz announced Friday that he will introduce a measure to censure and investigate US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case in Washington, DC.
Trump, 77, has derided Chutkan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, as “VERY BIASED & UNFAIR” and has demanded that the jurist recuse herself from the case, citing her handling of several trials related to supporters of his who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Gaetz’s resolution to censure, condemn and investigate the 61-year-old Jamaican-born judge accuses her of engaging in “partisan commentary” on and off the bench that “calls into question her fitness as a judge,” and claims Chutkan is openly biased against Trump.
“It is deeply concerning that a United States District Court judge would exhibit such blatant political bias from the bench,” the Florida lawmaker said in a statement Friday.
“Judge Tanya Chutkan’s extreme sentencing of January 6th defendants, while openly supporting the violent Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, showcases a complete disregard for her duty of impartiality and the rule of law,” he continued.
“Justice may be blind, but the American people are not – we see Judge Chutkan for her actions, and we rebuke them in the greatest possible sense.”
The resolution lists several examples of statements made, sentences handed down and actions taken by Chutkan that, according to Gaetz, call into question her integrity and independence and present impropriety or the appearance of impropriety.
Gaetz cites “thousands of dollars” donated by Chutkan to Obama’s presidential campaign before her appointment and her October 2022 comments during a sentencing hearing for a Capitol building rioter — when she lamented that Trump “remains free to this day” — as reasons for censure.
The Republican lawmaker also mentions a “bizarre rant” Chutkan went on in October 2021, during which she opined that “‘People gathered all over the country last year to protest the violent murder by the police of an unarmed man . . . to compare the actions of people protesting, mostly peacefully, for civil rights, to those of a violent mob seeking to overthrow the lawfully elected government is a false equivalency and ignores a very real danger that the January 6 riot posed to the foundation of our democracy.’’
If passed, Gaetz’s measure would also have the House Judiciary Committee open an investigation into Chutkan.
Former Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued earlier this month that Chutkan would be fair handling Trump’s federal case, telling NPR, that she’s “going to approach the issues straight up.”
“She has an enormous, enormous reputation in Washington, D.C., among lawyers. Whether you’re a Republican lawyer or a Democratic lawyer, whether you’re a prosecutor or a defense attorney, she’s easily one of the most respected judges in this city,” Katyal said.
“And if anything, I would say she has a reputation for being a little bit of a defendant-friendly judge. I think it probably comes from the fact that she was herself a public defender,” he added.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s office has proposed a Jan. 2, 2024, trial date for Trump in the 2020 election fraud case.
The former president and 2024 Republican presidential primary frontrunner is facing four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the US, obstruction, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.
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