Letter to Editor asserts Judge Merchan has power to impact the election with continued control over Trump

 June 7, 2024

Throughout the recently concluded proceedings, former President Donald Trump frequently accused New York Judge Juan Merchan of being biased and conflicted in presiding over a politically motivated prosecution intended to interfere in the 2024 election.

That and more appear to be true, as Merchan is now alleged to be "the most powerful man in the free world" who essentially wields the fate of the next election in his hands by way of his continued control over Trump's future, according to a Letter to the Editor of The Virginian-Pilot.

Merchan holds immense power over Trump and the election

A man from Chesapeake named Herb wrote, "At this time the most powerful man in the free world is not our president, not the members of the Supreme Court, not the director of the FBI, and not the head of the most powerful military in the world."

"No, the most powerful man is a little-known state court judge in New York who presided over the former President Donald Trump trial," Herb's letter continued. "This man decided what they could say, what evidence would be entered, and directed the jury on the law. All of this is within his purview, except that this judge contributed to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in 2020."

"Could his rulings have truly been impartial? He is an obvious Biden supporter. This man will sentence Trump on July 11, less than four months before the presidential election. How can this be? This is not blind justice," he said.

"At sentencing, this man can hem up Trump with anything from prison to home detention to no jail time, potentially preventing him from further campaigning. Trump might still be under a gag order. The man half the country wants as its next president may not be able to campaign," Herb added. "In effect, this judge in New York could ultimately decide who is our next president."

How a "vindictive" Merchan can impact the election at sentencing

A similar track was taken by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz in an op-ed for The Hill, in which he considered the impending July 11 sentencing date for former President Trump and wrote, "If the past is prologue, the sentence will not be motivated by fairness or justice; it will be the harshest sentence Merchan can impose without risking reversal or the possibility that it will help Trump’s electoral prospects."

The professor laid out a variety of "vindictive" ways Merchan could sentence Trump that would clearly impact the November election without actually detaining Trump behind bars, such as imposing a suspended or delayed prison sentence -- or even just probation with strict limiting conditions -- that would hang over Trump's head and potentially sway undecided voters.

That sentence must first be imposed before Trump can begin the lengthy appeals process, but Dershowitz wrote, "It is important that this appeal be argued and decided before the election so that voters have a more complete assessment of the case. As of now, all they have is the flawed result of a biased process involving a partisan prosecutor, a conflicted judge, and a jury selected from a pool of largely anti-Trump voters. The public is entitled to know what the appellate courts will decide before they allow this case to influence their votes."

"In any event, Judge Merchan has many sentencing options," the professor concluded. "We would not venture to predict which one he will select, though we are fairly certain, based on his trial rulings, that he will not be motivated by fairness or justice, but rather by the 'get Trump' attitude that has dominated this case from beginning to end."

Will Merchan lift the gag order on Trump or leave the speech restrictions in place?

Meanwhile, according to MSNBC, Trump's defense attorneys are now asking Judge Merchan to lift his limiting gag order on the former president and presumptive GOP nominee so that he can fully and effectively campaign for the office he seeks without the judge's constraints on what he can and can't say.

The letter to the judge provided evidence in support of the argument that the gag order was only ever intended to last for the duration of the trial and the involved jurors, prosecutors, and witnesses, and stated, "Now that the trial is concluded, the concerns articulated by the government and the Court do not justify continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights of President Trump -- who remains the leading candidate in the 2024 presidential election -- and the American people."

Trump's attorneys added that the "constitutional mandate for unrestrained campaign advocacy" by the Republican candidate was "even stronger" now in light of President Joe Biden's campaign speech outside the courthouse during the trial, his public remarks about the verdict, the "continued public attacks" on Trump by witnesses he is barred from mentioning, and, of course, the upcoming presidential debate at the end of this month, during which the trial and verdict are sure to be discussed.

Predictably, the outlet noted that the request is opposed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which argued in a letter of its own to Merchan that the gag order on Trump must remain in place "to protect the integrity of these proceedings and the fair administration of justice" until at least after the July 11 sentencing, if not through the ultimate conclusion of all post-trial matters, presumably including the lengthy appeals process.

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