Courts & Litigation Criminal Justice & the Rule of Law

Chutkan Denies Trump's Motion for Recusal

Hyemin Han
Wednesday, September 27, 2023, 7:00 PM

District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan has declined to recuse herself from the Jan. 6 case, as requested by Trump in a Sept. 11 motion.

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On Sep. 27, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan denied former President Donald Trump's motion to recuse herself from the Jan. 6 case. Trump's team had motioned for the judge's recusal in the case being litigated in Washington, D.C. on the basis of Chutkan's remarks during the sentencing of two Jan. 6 rioters, in which she had considered Trump's potential culpability for the insurrection as a part of her decision-making for the defendants' sentences. Trump's motion argued that such statements would likely make "reasonable members of the public ... believe she has prejudged both the facts pertinent to this case and President Trump’s alleged culpability."

In her 20-page order, Chutkan establishes the statements at issue as being derived from intrajudicial sources; provides more context for the statements in light of the cases of the individuals being sentenced at the time (Robert Scott Palmer and Christine Priola); reviews the legal precedents that counsel against recusal in cases like this; and dismisses the two precedents that the defense raises in their motion as being meaningfully different situations than the one at hand. She thus denies the motion.

You can read the order here or below:


Hyemin Han is an associate editor of Lawfare and is based in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked in eviction defense and has interned on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth independent daily.

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