Donald Trump on Sunday targeted the federal judge assigned to the case charging him with seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election, as his lawyer argued that actions Trump took after his loss were just “asks.”
Trump, in a social media post,” said: “THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE ‘ASSIGNED,'” adding that he planned to seek U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s recusal as well as a change of venue outside of Washington.
No formal request was filed with the court as of midday on Sunday. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, last week was indicted for a third time. He pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he conspired to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory, depriving U.S. voters of their right to a fair election.
Trump faces a 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) Monday deadline to respond to the U.S. government’s proposed protective order aimed at protecting witnesses and evidence in the case after Chutkan denied his bid for a delay.
Trump’s lawyer John Lauro, in a round of television interviews on Sunday, defended the former president’s actions in the wake of his 2020 election loss as petitions but not directives, and criticized the protective order.
“Every single thing that President Trump is being prosecuted for involved aspirational asks – asking state legislatures, asking state governors, asking state electoral officials to do the right thing. In fact, even asking Vice President Pence was protected by free speech,” Lauro told Fox News.
In response, the former vice president, Mike Pence, who is also seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, told CNN on Sunday: “President Trump was wrong then and he is wrong now. I had no right to overturn the election result.”
Pence, threatened by Trump’s supporters Jan. 6, 2021, as he oversaw Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory, has become a central figure in the case and has not ruled out becoming a witness against his former boss.
“They’re throwing everything they can at the wall and they’re trying to see what sticks,” Representative Pete Aguilar, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, told ABC News’ “This Week” program.
Lauro also refused to back a protective order sought by the Department of Justice, saying it would prevent the public and the media from hearing relevant material as case proceeds.
“We will not agree to keep information that is not sensitive from the press,” Lauro told CNN.
Special Counsel Jack Smith on Friday sought the order prohibiting Trump and his lawyers from sharing discovery materials with unauthorized people, citing a Trump social media post that he said raised concerns.