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Judge Merchan declines to let Trump attend SCOTUS presidential immunity arguments

Trump had sought permission not to attend the New York proceedings on that day as well as that of his son Barron's high school graduation.

Published: April 15, 2024 9:42pm

Judge Juan Merchan on Monday refused to permit former President Donald Trump to attend April 25 Supreme Court arguments on his presidential immunity claims that could decide the fate of special counsel Jack Smith's D.C. election case against him.

Merchan is the judge presiding over Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's prosecution of Trump, whose trial in that case began Monday. Trump had sought permission not to attend the New York proceedings on that day as well as that of his son Barron's high school graduation, The Hill reported. Merchan rejected the April 25 absence but delayed his decision on the graduation.

The former president faces criminal charges in Smith's case over his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results and has argued that he is immune from prosecution. While lower courts have largely rejected his claims, the prosecution is on hold pending a ruling from the justices. He was originally scheduled to face trial on March 4 in that case.

Bragg's case is unrelated to Smith's and stems from a 2016 payment Trump's then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts in the case.

Trump reacted furiously to the decision in a Truth Social post.

"In Addition to being prohibited from attending my son Barron’s High School Graduation, I have just learned that the highly biased Judge in the Soros 'appointed' D.A. Alvin Bragg’s Witch Hunt Case, will not allow me to attend the historic PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY argument in front of The United States Supreme Court, on Thursday, April 25th (next week!)," he said.

"This shows such great disdain and disrespect for our Nation’s Highest Court, especially for a topic so important as Presidential Immunity, without which our Country would never be the same!" Trump concluded.

Merchan did not rule on Trump's request to attend his son's graduation. He did, however, refuse Trump's second request that he recuse himself from the case. Trump has repeatedly pointed to Merchan's daughter, Loren Merchan, and her employment with Authentic, a left-wing organization that boasts President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as clients.

"The Court’s interest in these proceedings by virtue of the close relationship with an immediate relative, and Ms. Merchan’s ongoing receipt of commercial and reputational benefits based on the manner in which Your Honor has conducted these proceedings, requires recusal based on an actual conflict and an unacceptable appearance of impropriety," Trump's attorneys had argued.

"Personal political views may not be a basis for recusal. But profiting from the promotion of a political agenda that is hostile to President Trump, and has included fundraising solicitations based on this case, must be. Accordingly, President Trump respectfully requests that the Court recuse itself," they continued.

Merchan rejected Trump's bid, repeating a similar action from August of last year in which he declined to recuse himself on similar grounds.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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