Can Trump Get a Fair Trial in Washington, D.C.?
Americans are constitutionally entitled to a trial by an impartial jury of their peers in criminal trials. But a new poll out Monday suggests former President Donald Trump can’t get a fair trial in Washington, D.C. in the case his 2024 rival’s Justice Department is pursuing against him over his objections to the last presidential election.
According to an Emerson College survey, a majority of Washington D.C. residents, 64 percent, said they would vote in favor of a conviction over the former president’s objections to the 2020 election results. Only 8 percent said they would find Trump innocent, and another 28 percent were unsure.
District residents were also divided on their desire to serve on the jury. More than half, 55 percent, said they would want to sit on the trial jury while 45 percent reported they would not.
Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball said the survey results showed “those who are more impartial about the trial are less likely to want to serve on the jury.”
“Those who want to serve find Trump guilty rather than innocent 68% to 9% with 23% unsure, while those who don’t want to serve think Trump is guilty 60% to 6%, with 34% unsure,” Kimball said.
The former president cited D.C.’s far-left voting record last month as a reason to move the trial, which pertains to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, out of the Beltway bubble. The district overwhelmingly voted to deliver its three electoral votes to President Joe Biden in the last election, 92 to 5 percent.
The federal judge overseeing the case, however, has a record of bias that only casts further doubt on the former president’s prospects of a fair trial — and she is unlikely to approve the defendant’s request that she recuse herself.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan is an Obama appointee who developed a reputation in recent years as a “tough punisher of Capitol rioters,” according to the Associated Press. Chutkan repeatedly denied requests to move Jan. 6 riot cases outside of D.C. and handed down severe sentences to 38 defendants.
“Other judges typically have handed down sentences that are more lenient than those requested by prosecutors,” the AP reported. “Chutkan, however, has matched or exceeded prosecutors’ recommendations in 19 of her 38 sentences. In four of those cases, prosecutors weren’t seeking any jail time at all.”
In her denial of a Jan. 6 defendant’s request to relocate his politically charged trial from the Democrat-dominated district last year, Judge Chutkan claimed residents’ lopsided political views were not enough of a reason to transfer the case.
“Jurors’ political leanings are not, by themselves, evidence that those jurors cannot fairly and impartially consider the evidence presented and apply the law as instructed by the court,” Chutkan wrote.
The Emerson College survey out Monday interviewed 500 D.C. residents between Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 and was conducted with a 4.3 percent margin of error.
About the Author
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist and the author of Social Justice Redux, a conservative newsletter on culture, health, and wellness. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]. Sign up for Tristan’s email newsletter here.
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