Former President Donald Trump is set to appear in Washington, D.C on Thursday for arraignment on a second round of federal charges, and the Obama-appointed judge assigned to the case is already raising eyebrows due to her hardline stance on those involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the Capitol and other potentially problematic aspects of her history, as the Daily Mail reports.
Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan, selected to oversee the newest case against Trump, has been described as “the toughest punisher” of those facing Jan. 6-related charges, and with the latest charges facing the former president stemming – at least broadly – from the subject of that day's protests, critics are concerned about whether a fair trial is possible.
A profile of Chutkan published by the Associated Press explains that the judge “has handed out tougher sentences than the [Justice Department] was seeking in seven cases, matched its requests in four others, and sent all 11 riot defendants who have come before her behind bars.” She has also previously ruled against Trump in a dispute over a claim of executive privilege relating to the House Jan. 6 committee.
Further complicating the situation – at least in terms of perception – is the fact that Chutkan is a former employee of Boies Schiller Flexner, the same law firm for which first son Hunter Biden once worked and one which is known for its extremely close ties to the Democratic Party.
For these reasons and also due to the overwhelmingly liberal nature of the D.C. jury pool, Trump has gone public with his belief that fair and impartial proceedings in his case are extraordinarily unlikely, as The Hill reports.
Late on Wednesday, as The Hill further noted, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to decry the situation as it currently stands, saying, “The latest Fake 'case' brought by Crooked Joe Biden & Deranged Jack Smith will hopefully be moved to an impartial Venue, such as the politically unbiased nearby State of West Virginia!”
“IMPOSSIBLE to get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., which is over 95% anti-Trump, & for which I have called for a Federal TAKEOVER in order to bring our Capital back to Greatness,” the former president went on.
Trump concluded, “It is now a high crime embarrassment to our Nation and, indeed, the World. This Indictment is all about Election Interference!!!”
Echoing his client's concerns about whether he will be able to receive justice in Chutkan's courtroom was attorney John Lauro, who also suggested West Virginia as an alternative venue for the proceedings.
Speaking to NPR on Wednesday, Lauro indicated that he would like the case moved to a “more diverse area that has a more balanced jury pool” than D.C.
Lauro declared, “You know, the country is very, very divided politically right now, this is a very divisive indictment. It goes to issues of free speech and political activity. So, we're looking for a jury that will be more balanced.”
“And West Virginia was a state that was more evenly divided,” Lauro added, likely referencing the fact that while Washington, D.C. gave over 92% of its 2020 votes to then-candidate Joe Biden, West Virginians delivered 68% of their support to Trump.
Thursday's arraignment is just the latest chapter in the mounting legal woes facing Trump, who maintains a commanding lead in the 2024 Republican primary stakes.
The former president is also contending with New York State charges brought by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg as well as federal charges relating to allegedly unlawful retention of classified documents, and it is widely expected that he will soon face an additional indictment in Fulton County, Georgia related to his conduct in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Whether any of these prosecutions will appreciably dampen supporters' enthusiasm for his re-election bid, however, only time will tell.