Lawyers for Donald Trump have again asked the judge presiding over his upcoming criminal trial to recuse himself from the former president’s case, this time citing an “unacceptable appearance of impropriety.”

In a court filing made public Friday, Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove contended Judge Juan Merchan has a conflict of interest because his daughter has worked for and has equity in Authentic, which has worked with various Democratic groups, since the 2020 election cycle.

“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,” the filing said.

The motion was filed with the court on Wednesday — just under two weeks before the scheduled start of the trial for charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney alleging that Trump falsified business records related to hush money payments. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Merchan, who gave Trump’s attorneys permission to file the motion, rejected a similar argument by Trump’s lawyers in August of last year. In that decision, the judge said he’d sought guidance from the state courts system’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics over his daughter’s employment.

The committee found the DA’s case “does not involve either the judge’s relative or the relative’s business, whether directly or indirectly. They are not parties or likely witnesses in the matter, and none of the parties or counsel before the judge are clients in the business. We see nothing in the inquiry to suggest that the outcome of the case could have any effect on the judge’s relative, the relative’s business, or any of their interests.”  

The DA’s office told the judge in a letter earlier this week there were “no changed circumstances” since August that should result in the judge changing his mind and that Trump’s arguments were “a daisy chain of innuendos.”

“There is simply nothing new here that would alter this Court’s prior conclusion,” the DA’s office said.  

But Trump’s filing contended there has been a change since the earlier ruling.

“President Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee and leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election. His success in the primaries, which followed the Court’s ruling on the previous recusal motion, has cemented his status as a political target” for Democrats and, by extension, the daughter’s company, it argued.

Even as they cited the new electoral outlook as a change that warrants a renewed recusal request, Trump’s lawyers made clear in a court filing arguing against the expanded gag order that they still believed Merchan should have recused himself in August.

“President Trump’s comments concerning Your Honor’s daughter are, properly understood, a criticism of the Court’s prior decision not to recuse itself,” Trump’s attorneys said in that filing.

The new filing also repeats arguments that Trump made while arguing against the expanded gag order, including that the judge inappropriately weighed in on the case when a court spokesman pushed back on Trump’s claim on social media that the judge’s daughter was using a photo mockup of Trump behind bars as her profile picture on X.

The motion does not tie Merchan’s daughter directly to any of the fundraising solicitations or other online communications sent by her firm’s clients that reference the New York case.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the judge’s daughter online in recent weeks, including sharing right-wing news articles with her picture and a social media post that a court spokesperson suggested was the work of an impersonator. That led to the judge earlier this week expanding his earlier gag order preventing Trump or people on his behalf from going after witnesses, jurors, court staffers involved in the case, or family members of himself or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Despite the expanded gag order, Trump has continued to share articles on his Truth Social account about the judge’s alleged conflicts, including articles he shared on Friday that are critical of the judge’s daughter and his wife. His campaign also sent out an email blast that includes the recusal filing and mentions the judge’s daughter by name along with his lawyers’ allegations against her.

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