Right-wing media figures and outlets posted photos of the daughter of the judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s arraignment today in lower Manhattan and accused her of having ties to Democratic politicians. Some commentators responded by saying that posting a judge’s family member was intended as intimidation, an argument that prosecutors took up as well. Prior to his surrender, Trump also posted information about the judge and his family on his Truth Social platform.
Judge Juan Merchan is handling Trump’s criminal case, the first ever for a former or sitting president. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts stemming from payments made to his then-fixer Michael Cohen to allegedly cover up an affair he’d had with porn actor Stormy Daniels.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, right-wing figures and outlets accused Merchan of being a secret partisan operative for the Democratic Party. Conspiracy theory site The Gateway Pundit and far-right blog Breitbart, which credited The Gateway Pundit with breaking the story, alleged that Merchan’s daughter previously worked for Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 campaign and implied that this further proved that he was politically biased against Trump. Conservative tabloid The Daily Mail also wrote a lengthy piece, headlined “REVEALED: The progressive daughter of judge presiding over Donald Trump's hush money case in Manhattan who worked for Kamala Harris and Joe Biden - and is swirling speculation of bias against the ex-president.” All three outlets including photos of the judge’s daughter.
Needless to say, dubious reporting about Merchan’s family has no bearing on his ability to impartially preside over Trump’s case — but that didn’t stop right-wing actors from pushing the smear online.
- Donald Trump Jr. posted the same message to Twitter and Truth Social linking to the Breitbart article, which clearly displayed a photo of Merchan’s daughter to his more than 13 million combined followers. “Seems relevant… yet another connection in this hand picked democrat show trial,” Trump Jr. wrote. “The BS never ends folks.” Eric Trump also posted messages to Twitter and Truth Social. “They are all hand picked,” Eric Trump wrote on Twitter. “It is all pre-arranged. This corruption is on a different level.” His post linked to The Gateway Pundit article which also featured a photo of the judge’s daughter. The tweet has since been removed.
- The Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway and conspiracy theorist and neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec both criticized the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, who tweeted out partial screenshots of the tweets of Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., excluding images of Merchan. Hemingway dubiously claimed excluding the images amounted to deceptive edits, and Posobiec directed Twitter’s crowdsourced quasi-fact checking system “community notes” to “do your thing.”
- Newsmax's Ric Grennell called it “a legitimate story,” shared The Daily Mail article, and criticized an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence for “shaming anyone who shares the story.”
- Conservative media site DC Enquirer posted a story about the judge’s daughter as well, aggregating information from Breitbart and The Gateway Pundit.
- Conspiracy theorist and Trump pardon recipient Dinesh D’Souza tweeted a link to the DC Enquirer story, headlined “Trump’s Indictment Judge Exposed, His Daughter Worked For Biden/Harris, Further Proving Indictment a Frivolous Witch Hunt.”
- New York Post columnist Paul Sperry tweeted: “The daughter of the Manhattan judge presiding over the Trump criminal case is a Democratic political strategist who worked on the congressional campaign of Democrat Rep. ADAM SCHIFF, who led the first impeachment of Trump.”
- Anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer tweeted a link to the Breitbart story, adding: “A BANANA REPUBLIC! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!!! Judge should have to recuse himself.”
- Team Trump, Trump’s official campaign account, tweeted the Breitbart story and accompanying photo to its more than 2 million followers.
- Relentless podcast host Kyle Becker tweeted a link to TrendingPoliticsNews.com, which also relied on The Gateway Pundit’s original piece. “But wait, it gets worse,” Becker wrote. “The daughter of the judge in Trump’s case has strong ties within the Democratic party.”
- Right-wing commentator Greg Price tweeted: “The judge is a Democrat whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris.”