Why does Trump think attacking his Manhattan judge is a good plan?

Facing unique legal peril, the former president returns to a tried and true strategy

Protesters outside Trump Tower
(Image credit: Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Seven years ago, facing a massive civil fraud lawsuit against his eponymous for-profit university, then-candidate Donald Trump shocked and offended legal observers by launching into an extended series of attacks on the federal judge presiding over the suit, claiming U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel's "Mexican heritage" presented "an absolute conflict" in the Indiana-born jurist's ability to fairly handle the case.

Last week the now-ex-president returned to that same rhetorical stomping ground with a blistering screed against acting New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, the man tapped to preside over Trump's forthcoming criminal trial for alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. "The Judge 'assigned' to my Witch Hunt Case, a 'Case' that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME," Trump posted on his Truth Social account. "His name is Juan Manuel Marchan, was hand picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors, & is the same person who 'railroaded' my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a 'plea' deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.