Federal judge who criticized Trump on CNN faces ethics complaint

Since airing last week, the judge's interview has garnered millions of views.

Published: April 3, 2024 1:15pm

Updated: April 7, 2024 11:18am

D.C. federal Judge Reggie Walton is facing an ethics complaint after he publicly voiced approval of New York Judge Juan Merchan's decision to issue a gag order on former President Donald Trump, who is set to go to trial in Manhattan this month on hush money charges.

"Judge Walton must have known his interview was highly prejudicial to President Trump," the Article III Project, a conservative legal watchdog group, wrote in a complaint filed Tuesday with D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan. 

Since airing last week, Walton's CNN interview has garnered millions of views, and with Trump set to go on trial in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., Georgia and Florida, the group argued that the interview may have polluted every potential jury pool for all trials.  

Walton, an appointee of George W. Bush who has been threatened alongside his family, said during his interview last week: "I think it is an attack, on the rule of law, when judges are threatened, and particularly when their family is threatened. And it's something that's wrong, and should not happen."

Because of Trump's position, when he makes statements, it can cause others to react, even if that was not Trump's intention, Walton said.

"We have had judges, who've lost their lives, or family members have lost their lives, as a result of individuals, who have been litigants in their courtroom," he also said.

His comments come after Trump posted on Truth Social that Merchan's daughter is a "rabid Trump hater." At the time, the gag order only prevented Trump from publicly discussing jurors, court staffers and attorneys, but not Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, nor Merchan himself. The judge has since expanded the gag order to prevent the former president from publicly talking about the families of Bragg and Merchan. 

"A criminal defendant expressed the view that he would not get a fair trial because of the business activities of the presiding judge’s adult daughter, who is a Democrat political consultant," the Article III Project also wrote. "Whether one agrees with this view, one cannot construe it as a threat or a suggestion that anyone else threatens or perpetuates violence against the judge or his family." 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News