Trump says Judge Merchan 'thinks he is above the Supreme Court' after denial of request to attend immunity hearing

 April 25, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Thursday about former President Donald Trump's claimed presidential immunity from criminal prosecution, but the man at the center of that debate was not in attendance to observe the critical proceeding.

That is because the former president was barred from attending the Supreme Court hearing by New York Judge Juan Merchan, who instead ordered Trump to be in his Manhattan courtroom on the same day for his ongoing criminal trial, Fox News reported.

In an exclusive interview with the outlet, Trump said of Merchan, "Because he thinks he is above the Supreme Court, he is prohibiting me from going to the presidential immunity hearing where some of the great legal scholars will be arguing the case -- the most important case in many years on the Supreme Court."

Hearing on Trump's immunity claim

According to SCOTUSblog, former President Trump first raised his presidential immunity defense claim last year in response to the 2020 election and Jan. 6 Capitol riot-related criminal charges filed against him in Washington D.C. by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

The D.C. district judge in that federal case rejected Trump's immunity claim in December, with the D.C. Circuit appeals court affirming that rejection roughly two months later, which led to the current appeal to the Supreme Court to rule definitively on "whether and to what extent a former president is immune from prosecution for conduct that allegedly involves his official acts during his time as president."

Trump and his attorneys have put forward several compelling arguments for the existence of such immunity, all of which were sharply opposed by Smith, and the underlying case in the D.C. district court has been and will continue to remain on hold until the Supreme Court renders its decision, likely in June or July.

Trump's request to attend SCOTUS hearing denied

Meanwhile, former President Trump is also currently on trial in New York for the alleged falsification of business records stemming from his reimbursement of "hush money" payments to silence accusations of alleged extramarital affairs during the 2016 election.

The Hill reported that when that trial first began last week, Trump asked Judge Merchan if he could be excused from mandatory attendance so he could attend the Supreme Court hearing about his immunity claim, only for that request to be immediately denied.

"Arguing before the Supreme Court is a big deal, and I can certainly appreciate why your client would want to be there, but a trial in New York Supreme Court … is also a big deal," the judge told Trump's attorneys, and added, "I will see him here next week."

Trump slams judge and prosecutor in New York case

In his exclusive interview with Fox News, former President Trump ripped into Judge Merchan as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and lamented, "Virtually every legal scholar and expert in the country said that this case should not have been brought, that there was no crime, that everything was done properly and that this is a case that should be dropped immediately."

"It’s an embarrassment to Crooked Joe Biden and the Democrat Party who are duly standing behind it and the judge is totally conflicted -- totally conflicted," he continued to reiterate his insistence that President Joe Biden is the driving force behind the multiple criminal indictments he faces that he contends are meant to interfere with and cripple his chances at winning re-election in November.

"If falsifying a business record is because a bookkeeper wrote down ‘legal expense’ in paying a legal fee, that’s not falsifying. They call it a legal expense -- and that’s what it was. It was a legal expense," Trump added of the New York case. "It was legal fees paid to a lawyer -- that’s called a legal expense."

Also barred from Barron's graduation?

Former President Trump also reminded Fox News of his claim that Judge Merchan prohibited him from attending his youngest son Barron's upcoming high school graduation ceremony -- though the Associated Press has reported that Merchan hasn't yet ruled on Trump's request to be excused for that event and instead said that his eventual decision "really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial."

Trump told Fox News, "The other thing is, the judge is prohibiting me from going to my son’s graduation from high school -- my son Barron, who has worked very hard and he’s a great student. He can’t have his father at his graduation because of a vicious judge that’s totally conflicted," and added of Merchan, "He should never be allowed to do this case."

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