Judge with History of Trump-Related Cases Assigned to Indictment Grand Jury

(MENAFN) Former President Donald trump is facing a possible falsification of business records case tied to a 2016 "hush money" payment, with approximately 30 counts in the indictment, according to sources. The judge overseeing the grand jury and any indictments arising from its investigation is Juan Merchan, who has played a key role in several investigations involving those in Trump's orbit. Merchan presided over the convictions and guilty plea of two Trump Organization companies and their former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, and is overseeing the ongoing criminal proceedings involving Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist.

Trump accused Merchan of "railroading" and "strong arming" Weisselberg and treating his companies "viciously" in a post on his social media site TruthSocial. However, a court spokesperson declined to comment on Trump's post. Merchan was assigned from a "wheel" of judges to supervise the grand jury and oversee any indictments arising from its investigation.

Merchan has been an acting justice in Manhattan's State Supreme Court for 14 years, following a three-year stint as a Bronx family court judge. Prior to that, he worked for the New York Attorney General's Office for seven years, and spent five years as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. Trump's legal team considers Merchan "pro-prosecutor" due to his previous role as an assistant district attorney.

During the Trump Organization trial in October 2022, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg praised Merchan for running an efficient courtroom. However, as a candidate to retake the White House in 2024, Trump and his legal team have repeatedly accused Bragg of pursuing the cases out of political animus, accusing the district attorney, a Democrat, of bias.

Similar arguments have previously been dismissed by Merchan. When lawyers for the Trump Organization said they might argue political bias during the companies' trial, Merchan quickly shut them down, limiting both sides in the Trump Organization trial to arguments focused on the law. The two entities were found guilty by a jury in December of a combined 17 counts related to criminal tax fraud.

Merchan's experience as an auditor at a real estate firm prior to becoming a prosecutor was noted in a New York Times report in December. The report stated that this job made him "unusually equipped to digest" the spreadsheets and calculations of a complex financial crimes case.

As the grand jury investigation into the "hush money" payment case continues, Trump and his legal team will have to contend with a judge who has played a key role in several investigations involving those in his orbit.



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