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Manhattan DA Bragg denies Trump hush money trial will benefit judge's daughter despite Dem fundraising ties

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Office used former President Trump’s defense team’s own words in arguing against their push to have Judge Juan Merchan recused from the hush-money case amid new allegations that Merchan’s daughter is financially benefiting as a result of the case through her work as a Democratic political consultant. 

Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles, argued in a pre-trial motion on Monday that Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, works as an executive and partner at Authentic Campaigns, Inc., and financially benefits from the case and upcoming trial against Trump that her father oversees.  

Despite the new information coming to light, Bragg’s assistant district attorneys asserted in a letter of their own filed on Tuesday that Trump has “identified no changed circumstances” that warrant revisiting the court’s prior order on August 11, 2023, denying the defendant’s earlier motion for recusal. 

Merchan on Wednesday also separately denied Trump’s request to have the upcoming trial delayed until the Supreme Court rules on his presidential immunity.

The assistant district attorneys rejected Trump’s argument that “Authentic has used social media to market its connections to President Biden and Vice President Harris while deriding President Trump.” 

“Even assuming that this claim is true, it merely reiterates defendant’s earlier argument based on Authentic’s client list,” Bragg’s office wrote. “This Court and the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics have already determined that such a claim provides no basis for recusal.”


In August 2023, the court said that Trump had presented only “speculative and hypothetical scenarios,” but the former president’s lawyers argued Monday that those scenarios “have come to pass” as Trump has advanced since then to become the presumptive GOP nominee for president in 2024. 

“Authentic and Your Honor’s daughter are making money by supporting the creation and dissemination of campaign advocacy for President Trump’s opponent, political rivals, and the Democrat party,” Trump’s defense said. “It can no longer be ignored that Authentic’s commercial interests are benefitted by developments in this case that harm President Trump’s penal interests and divert his efforts from running his leading campaign for the presidency by requiring him to prepare and sit for trial during the general election.” 

Citing filings with the Federal Election Commission, Trump’s attorneys argued that “Authentic has received millions of dollars in disbursements from entities associated with President Trump’s political rivals since the Indictment was returned” and “some of those funds were paid to Authentic by entities associated with legislators and PACs that have used email and/or social media to solicit contributions specifically based on this case.” Thus, they claimed, “there is strong evidence that Authentic has used this case to make money” and “those benefits and the ongoing financial interest cannot be ignored.” 


Trump leaves Manhattan criminal court

But Bragg’s team cited that language in pushing back on Tuesday, writing, “defendant’s own careful wording reveals the multiple attenuated factual leaps here that undercut any direct connection between Authentic and this case: Authentic has received money from ‘entities’; those entities are ‘associated with’ politicians; and those politicians have raised money based on this case.” 

“This daisy chain of innuendos is a far cry from evidence that this Court has ‘a direct, personal, substantial or pecuniary interest in reaching a particular conclusion,’” the assistant district attorneys wrote. “There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this Court’s family member, let alone this Court.” 

Trump’s team also criticized the court for making “extrajudicial comments about the case” despite Merchan issuing a gag order and subsequent extension that prevent the presumptive Republican nominee “from engaging in protected campaign speech.” 

Bragg leaves court

Namely, Trump’s team took issue with the court using the Office of Court Administration to issue a statement relating to an X account used at some point by Merchan’s daughter. 

“As public scrutiny on these issues increased, the account in question appears to have been closed to the public. So too has Authentic’s X account, thereby limiting President Trump’s ability to investigate these issues,” they wrote. 

They cited the Associated Press having quoted a court spokesperson stating that Merchan’s daughter no longer owned an X account that appeared to have recently shared a photo of the former Republican president behind bars. Hitting back, Bragg’s office wrote, “To the extent defendant intends to seek recusal based on the cited article, such a request would be a frivolous and vexatious effort to further waste the Court’s time.” 

The prosecution said that Trump “fails to note that—aside from acknowledging ‘intense’ preparation the article reports that ‘Merchan wouldn’t talk about the case’” and “does not report that the Court was talking about this case when the Court reportedly said ‘There’s no agenda here. We want to follow the law.’” 

Bragg’s team added that “even if the Court did have this case in mind, expressing a broad commitment to impartiality is very obviously not a prohibited ‘comment about a pending or impending proceeding,’ and is not a basis for recusal.”

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