- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2023

Former President Donald Trump says the New York City judge who is expected to preside over his arraignment next week hates him.

Mr. Trump also asserted that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “hand picked” the judge to oversee his case.

Writing on his Truth Social platform, Mr. Trump said Friday that Justice Juan Merchan “railroaded” former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who is serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.

“The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME. His name is Juan Manuel Marchan, was hand picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors,” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling the judge’s name.

He said Justice Merchan “is the same person who ‘railroaded’ my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a ‘plea’ deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail.”

Justice Merchan oversaw the criminal investigation on the Trump Organization for allegedly withholding salaries and bonuses to benefit executives including Weisselberg. Weisselberg pleaded guilty last August to 15 counts of tax evasion and fraud, admitting that he evaded $1.7 million worth of unreported income in the form of perks.

“He strong armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn’t ‘plead,’ VICIOUSLY. APPEALING!” Mr. Trump said of the judge.

A spokesman for the court could not immediately be reached for comment.

Justice Merchan signed an order Thursday authorizing Mr. Bragg to disclose to the public the indictment of Mr. Trump on charges related to hush-money payments in 2016 to porn actress Stormy Daniels. The arraignment of the former president is expected Tuesday in a Manhattan courtroom.

Justice Merchan was appointed to the Bronx County Family Court in 2006 by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg before joining the New York County Supreme Court in 2009. He is a native of Colombia who moved to the U.S. when he was 6.

He studied at the Hofstra University School of Law and started work as a Manhattan assistant district attorney in 1994.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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