The readily apparent "conflict" of interest with the judge assigned to former President Donald Trump's Manhattan business records case was called out by an expert to The Wall Street Journal.
The report drew rare praise from Trump, who has been increasingly critical of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.-owned newspaper in recent weeks.
"This article, as written in The Wall Street Journal, is a truthful and very important one," Trump wrote on Truth Social on Sunday night. "The whole New York Judicial System is rigged against me, and everyone knows it.
"It's a disgrace, and not only this judge, there are others that are just as bad or, believe it or not, worse! It's all a political witch-hunt, in coordination with heavy handed, dishonest, and highly partisan prosecutors, working in conjunction with D.C. 'Justice,' the likes of which our country has never seen before!"
Trump's remarks came after former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Christopher Brennan called out the assignment of New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to many of the Trump-related cases as a "conflict" of interest, if not potential anti-Trump animus Trump has long rebuked.
"There was not a random selection of a judge in this case, and there should have been," Brennan told the Journal. "He actually should be the last person selected, given the potential conflict."
Brennan added that the selection "might call into question his impartiality" in the present case against Trump.
Merchan was picked for his experience in presiding over related cases, starting in late 2020, by administrative Judge Ellen Biben, sources told the Journal.
Biben has previously randomly assigned judges to grand juries, sources told the Journal, but that was not the case with Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's grand jury looking into Trump.
Another former New York judge told the journal putting a judge on similar cases is consistent with common practice. But the first indictment of a former U.S. president by a local prosecutor is not.
Trump has already called out Merchan's anti-Trump bias and animus before he was indicted for 34 counts of falsifying business records.
"The judge 'assigned' to my witch-hunt case, a 'case' that has never been charged before, hates me," Trump posted to Truth Social on March 31. "His name is Juan Manuel Merchan, was hand picked by Bragg & the prosecutors, & is the same person who 'railroaded' my 75-year-old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a 'plea' deal (plead guilty, even if you are not, 90 days, fight us in court, 10 years (life!) in jail.
"He strong-armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn't 'plead,' viciously. Appealing!"
Trump's lawyers are expected to make a number of motions before the case goes to trial in December. Those motions will be heard by Merchan.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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