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March 31, 2024

Critics blast federal judge over comments on Trump made during CNN appearance

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. courted controversy last week when he leveled criticism at former President Donald Trump's comments about judges presiding over his criminal cases, with some suggesting that in doing so, he ran afoul of ethics rules.

Judge Reggie Walton, who has also overseen cases involving Jan. 6 defendants, sat for an interview with Kaitlan Collins of CNN, and during their chat, he made remarks many believe crossed a very serious line, as Fox News reports.

Walton holds forth

Walton spoke specifically about comments Trump made regarding left-leaning political connections maintained by the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, the New York judge presiding over the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case.

“It's very disconcerting to have someone making comments about a judge. And it's particularly problematic when those comments are in the form of a threat, especially if they're directed at one's family,” Walton said.

He went on, “I think it's important that, as judges, we speak out and say things in reference to things that conceivably are going to impact the process, because if we don't have a viable court system that's able to function effectively, then we have tyranny.”

Clearly piqued by Trump's references to Merchan and his family, Walton added, “So, I think it's very important that people in positions of authority be fairly circumspect in reference to the things that they say, so that they're not causing others to act on what they say and maybe cause injury or death to someone as a result of that.”

Criticism pours in

Fox News legal editor Kerri Kupec Urbhan took aim at the jurist's statements to Collins, saying, “Judge Reggie Walton is a sitting federal judge in a district where Donald Trump is currently a criminal defendant with an active case. He should not be publicly commenting in media interviews on anything related to him, full stop.”

Urbahn continued, “This is yet another example of a lack of regard for the appearance of fairness when it comes to Donald Trump, which, whether you like Trump or not, flies in the face of what judges and the justice system are supposed to be about.”

Constitutional law scholar John Shu concurred, saying, “It's unseemly for Judge Walton to publicly discuss Trump or a Trump case, regardless of which one, because one of Trump's active criminal cases is in Judge Walton's court, the federal district court in D.C.”

As the Washington Times notes, Mike Davis, who heads the Article III Project, suggested that Walton could soon find himself in ethical hot water over his statements on CNN.

“Is this a (bad) joke? This is a sitting federal judge. And he's commenting on a pending criminal case? Against the leading presidential candidate? During the height of the election season? If so, this is highly prejudicial. And extremely inappropriate,” Davis opined.

Whether any formal professional repercussions will be sought against Walton, however, only time will tell.

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