Conservative group files complaint after judge gives media interview on Trump gag order: ‘Highly inappropriate’

A conservative legal group filed a misconduct complaint Tuesday against a federal judge in Washington, D.C., after the judge gave a rare national television interview on the topic of former President Donald Trump’s gag order in New York.

Mike Davis, an ardent Trump supporter writing on behalf of the Article III Project, called Judge Reggie Walton’s interview on CNN last week “highly inappropriate” and “highly prejudicial” in a letter to the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia.

Walton, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, had spoken during his TV appearance about comments Trump recently made about the daughter of the judge who is overseeing Trump’s hush money case in New York.

“It’s very disconcerting to have someone making comments about a judge, and it’s particularly problematic when those comments are in the form of a threat, especially if they’re directed at one’s family,” Walton had said during his interview.

Ethics rules prohibit judges from commenting on the merits of pending cases in any court, but they leave open the ability for judges to comment generally on court procedures.

Walton spoke mostly in generic terms when asked about Trump’s case, but at one point, he opined on the gag order the New York judge had issued.

“Judge Walton must have known his interview was highly prejudicial to President Trump, who now must face jury pools—in New York City (starting in less than two weeks), Washington, DC (where Judge Walton presides, including over many related January 6th criminal cases), Atlanta, and Florida—who have now heard a sitting DC federal judge essentially accuse a criminal defendant of making ‘violent threats’ against another judge and his family for simply raising potential judicial bias by that judge presiding over his case,” Davis wrote.

Trump himself did not threaten New York Judge Juan Merchan or his daughter Loren, but he blasted them both repeatedly in statements of outrage online for what Trump perceived as a conflict of interest in the hush money case. Trump’s criticisms prompted Juan Merchan to tighten restrictions on a gag order against Trump.

Loren Merchan has a senior role at a Democratic marketing firm that has provided millions of dollars worth of services to some of Trump’s most outspoken rivals, such as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), in recent years.

Trump at one point called Merchan a “Rabid Trump Hater” and shared a news report featuring her photo that accused her of profiting off of Trump’s case. Juan Merchan argued that his gag order was necessary because remarks of that nature could inspire serious threats against Trump’s targets.

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Davis, in his complaint about Walton, defended Trump, saying the presumptive Republican nominee was “simply raising evidence” to expose Juan Merchan’s alleged conflict of interest.

“If a criminal defendant truly makes violent threats, a prosecutor can charge him with obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and related crimes,” Davis said. “But we have entered very dangerous territory as a country when attorneys accuse a criminal defendant of making a ‘violent threat’ against a judge for simply raising evidence of the judge’s potential bias.”

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