A former California prosecutor called it “troubling optics” and “problematic” that the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s case donated to President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Former Southern California U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, appearing on MSNBC, said it was “not the best course of action for a judge to have made political contributions.”
The judge, Juan Merchan, donated to Biden’s presidential campaign committee and Progressive Turnout Project, a super PAC that fights against Republicans.
While the donations were both less than $20, Lam admitted these donations could negatively affect the American public’s perception of Trump’s trial.
“We’ve also learned, during an FEC filing report, that Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over Trump’s New York arraignment, made a campaign donation to President Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, it was for $15. Are the optics problematic here?” MSNBC host Lindsey Reiser asked.
“I think the optics are a bit problematic…To be clear, the donations were made in 2020, before Judge Merchan had either the Trump organization case assigned to him or, obviously, this case, but it is troubling optics, I think, for any judge to have made a political contribution, and then to have a party who is either the beneficiary or not the beneficiary of that political contribution before that judge in court,” Lam responded.
“The judge in this case is not the ultimate trier of fact, the jury is, but the judge does call some balls and some strikes during the course of the trial, and if there’s a conviction, the judge is responsible for sentencing,” Lam continued.
“That is all subject to review on appeal. However, it is probably not the best course of action for a judge to have made political contributions while a sitting judge, with the possibility that such cases can arise before him,” the former prosecutor added.