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Trump Asks Trial Judge to Step Aside, Aiming Again at His Daughter

Donald J. Trump, desperate to delay his criminal trial in Manhattan this month, has renewed a request for the judge overseeing the case to step aside, the latest twist in the former president’s attacks on the judge’s integrity — and family.

In a court filing made public Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, has a conflict of interest because his daughter is a political consultant who has worked with Democratic candidates. The lawyers also claimed that her company, Authentic Campaigns, has used social media to deride Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and tout its connections to President Biden.

“The trial in this case will benefit Authentic financially by providing its clients more fodder for fund-raising, Authentic will make more money by assisting with those communications and your honor’s daughter will continue to earn money from these developments by virtue of her senior role at Authentic,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles, wrote in a letter to the judge. “Your honor has an interest in this case that warrants recusal.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the case against Mr. Trump, fired back, noting that Justice Merchan had previously declined to recuse himself, citing a state advisory committee on judicial ethics. They argued that Mr. Trump had offered no new evidence, other than “a daisy chain of innuendos,” and said that he had made “multiple attenuated factual leaps here that undercut any direct connection between Authentic and this case.”

Mr. Trump’s latest effort to force out the judge — which, if granted, would delay the trial indefinitely — coincided with a barrage of attacks on the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan. Mr. Trump last week targeted Ms. Merchan, claiming falsely that she had posted an image of him behind bars on social media.

He later escalated the attacks, identifying Ms. Merchan by name and accusing her of being “a Rabid Trump Hater.” He also posted a news article to his social media site, Truth Social, that displayed two pictures of Ms. Merchan.

On Monday, Justice Merchan expanded a gag order to bar the former president from attacking his relatives. The order, which Mr. Trump claims is unconstitutional, also applies to family members of the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, who requested the move.

Mr. Bragg is poised to become the first prosecutor to put a former U.S. president on trial. Mr. Trump faces three other criminal cases in three different cities, but those are mired in delays and appeals.

In the Manhattan case, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection on April 15, Mr. Bragg has accused Mr. Trump of covering up a sex scandal surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign. The case stems from a hush-money deal with a porn star who was threatening to go public about her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

The former president has denied having an affair with the woman, Stormy Daniels, and has attacked the case as politically motivated.

Mr. Trump struck out last year when he first sought Justice Merchan’s recusal, citing his daughter’s job and the judge’s own small donations to Democrats.

In declining to hand the case to another judge, Justice Merchan noted that the judicial ethics committee had determined that his impartiality could not “reasonably be questioned” based on the contributions or his daughter’s career. He said her interests would not be substantially affected by the proceedings.

Justice Merchan wrote that Mr. Trump had “failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required.”

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