Who is Tanya Chutkan, the judge assigned in Trump’s 2020 election case?

Who is Tanya Chutkan, the judge assigned in Trump’s 2020 election case?
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Special counsel Jack Smith announced Tuesday a third indictment against former President Trump on charges originating from his efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election.

The 45-page indictment alleges Trump acted with “dishonesty, fraud and conceit” to block the counting of votes.

The indictment charges Trump with four separate counts:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States

  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding

  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding

  • Conspiracy against rights

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has been initially assigned to the case. Here are three things you should know about her.

Chutkan was confirmed unanimously

Barack Obama at a campaign rally for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Atlanta in Dec. 2022. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Former President Obama nominated Chutkan to be the U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia, and she was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, 95-0, in June 2014.

She has handed out strong sentences in Jan. 6 cases

Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. Law enforcement officials say, Taylor Taranto, a man wanted for crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been arrested in the Washington neighborhood where former President Barack Obama lives. Taranto was seen a few blocks from the former president’s home, and he fled even though he was chased by U.S. Secret Service agents. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

In one case involving Brandon Miller and Stephanie Miller, a couple involved in the Jan. 6 riot, prosecutors asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sentence them to home confinement as part of a 36-month probationary period.

The Ohio couple entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and Brandon Miller filmed the couple’s actions live on Facebook.


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But Chutkan went much further, sentencing Brandon Miller to 20 days in jail and Stephanie Miller to 14 days in jail in December 2021.

“They didn’t just walk through a door. They climbed through a broken window … they knew full well of the violence that had preceded their entry,” Chutkan said at the time. “The fact is that they were part of a mob … that was intent on stopping the lawful transfer of power.”

Chutkan has ruled on a Trump case before

Former President Donald Trump visits Café du Monde in New Orleans, Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Trump filed a lawsuit in November 2021 that sought to block the National Archives from handing over documents related to the events of Jan. 6 to the House select committee investigating the attack.

In her ruling, Chutkan denied Trump’s request on the grounds that President Biden was best suited to decide on matters of executive privilege.

“Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’” Chutkan wrote in her opinion.

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