Donald Trump
Donald TrumpReuters

Lawyers for former US President Donald Trump on Monday asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself, saying her past public statements about Trump and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol call into question whether she can be fair, ABC News reports.

The recusal motion from Trump's lawyers takes aim at US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama and has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of Jan. 6 defendants.

The request is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, who is unlikely to see cause to step aside from the case, noted ABC News.

Chutkan last month scheduled the trial for March 4, 2024, over the vigorous objections of defense lawyers who said that would not give them enough time to prepare.

The case in Washington, charging Trump in a four-count indictment with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is one of four criminal cases confronting the former president as he seeks reelection to the White House.

In asking Chutkan to step aside, the Trump legal team is relying on a familiar playbook. He tried unsuccessfully to get the judge removed from the hush-money case against him in New York state court, with his lawyers claiming that New York Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is biased because he’s given cash to Democrats and his daughter is a party consultant.

The judge last month rejected Trump’s demand that he step aside, saying he is certain of his “ability to be fair and impartial.”

Federal judges are supposed to step aside in cases where their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Other bases for recusal include a personal bias against one of the parties. Trump’s lawyers say Chutkan's comments show she has “already formed an opinion about President Trump’s guilt” and many of the allegations that underpin the indictment against him.

Chutkan has often has handed down prison sentences in Jan. 6 cases that are harsher than Justice Department prosecutors recommended. She also previously ruled against Trump in a separate Jan. 6 case, refusing his request to block the release of documents to the U.S. House’s Jan. 6 committee by asserting executive privilege, noted ABC News.