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“Prosecutors in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg—from Christopher Conroy to Matthew Colangelo to Bragg himself—have also shown themselves to be plausible coconspirators.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senator JD Vance (R-OH) called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a criminal investigation into Judge Juan Merchan for his illegal deprivation of President Donald J. Trump’s First Amendment rights. In his letter, Senator Vance argues Judge Merchan’s conduct against President Trump, including his imposition of a gag order, his refusal to dismiss prospective jurors who harbored obvious anti-Trump bias, and his barring of exculpatory evidence, could amount to criminal deprivation of rights violations under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241–42. 

18 U.S.C. § 241 criminalizes conspiracies to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” others from enjoying their federally protected rights, while 18 U.S.C. § 242 prohibits any person acting under color of law from depriving individuals of their rights under the Constitution and federal law, including officials acting “within” and “beyond” the bounds of their lawful authority. U.S. Supreme Court precedent expressly declares that improper conduct of judges is subject to prosecution under statute. 

The letter reads, in part:

Merchan has imposed a prior restraint on the protected speech of a former president who is now leading presidential polling of the next election.  On Merchan’s orders, a Republican presidential candidate has been made powerless to question the credibility of the witnesses testifying against him, the motivations of the prosecutors pursuing him, or the impartiality of the apparently conflicted judge fining him …


Merchan has not been content to deprive President Trump of only his First Amendment rights, either.  As a criminal defendant, President Trump is entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury.   Merchan has done his best to deprive Trump of both …


When it comes to the admission and exclusion of evidence, Merchan has been just as shameless.  He has bent over backwards to allow the prosecution to introduce whatever evidence it wants, e.g., by allowing a prosecution witness to testify at length about the alleged details of an unproven sexual episode with no relevance to the underlying charges.   But he has taken a strong hand against defense evidence at every opportunity …


As for a possible conspiracy under Section 241, there are many likely coconspirators to consider.  For one, Merchan’s daughter Loren seems to be an obvious beneficiary of Merchan’s biased rulings.  She works as a fundraiser for Democratic officials and organizations, and she helped her clients raise $93 million from donors during Trump’s trial in New York, partly by invoking the case and smearing the defendant in solicitation emails.


Prosecutors in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg—from Christopher Conroy to Matthew Colangelo to Bragg himself—have also shown themselves to be plausible coconspirators.  After all, they have repeatedly urged Merchan to deprive President Trump of his First Amendment rights in court filings and oral advocacy.  One can only wonder what sort of ex parte communications might have led Merchan to so enthusiastically embrace a prior restraint on speech that he would have known to be repugnant to the Constitution.

Read the full letter here and below: