Days after Trump’s attorneys filed a motion for Judge Donald Middlebrooks, a 1996 Clinton appointee, to recuse himself from Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton he has responded. In a Thursday order, the judge refused to step aside from the lawsuit.
In a five-page order, Judge Donald Middlebrooks emphasized that he has never met either of the Clintons and was confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate, requiring backing from both parties.
“Every federal judge is appointed by a president who is affiliated with a major political party, and, therefore, every federal judge could theoretically be viewed as beholden, to some extent or another,” Middlebrooks wrote. “As judges, we must all transcend politics.”
“Despite the odds, this case landed with me instead,” Middlebrooks wrote, suggesting that Trump’s legal team was judge-shopping — seeking to get the case in front of a judge who might view it favorably. He also quoted an appellate precedent observing that recusal demands are “sometimes driven more by litigation strategies than by ethical concerns.”
Middlebrooks then seemed to hit Trump over his judicial record.
“When Plaintiff is a litigant before a judge that he himself appointed, he does not tend to advance these same sorts of bias concerns,” Middlebrooks wrote, citing two of Trump’s failed lawsuits in his bid to overturn the 2020 election, and a legal fight by the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain Trump’s tax returns from the IRS. Those cases were presided over by Judges Brett Ludwig, Stephanos Bibas and Trevor McFadden — all Trump appointees — without any concerns raised by Trump’s legal team about impartiality.
Trump has yet to respond to Judge Middlebrooks decision.