The federal judge assigned on Tuesday to hear Donald Trump‘s lawsuit against the House Select Committee on January 6 has a history of harsh words and harsh sentencing for people involved in the Capitol attack.
She denounced the rioters as a ‘violent mob seeking to overthrow the lawfully elected government’ during the sentencing hearing of one participant, Matthew Mazzocco, who she sentenced to 45 days in jail despite prosecutors not recommending any incarceration.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan was handed the case at random a day after Trump filed the suit in a bid to block the release of records to the Democrat-led committee. The case is expected to test the limits of executive privilege.
Public records show she donated around $2,200 to Obama in 2008, when she was a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner.
Already Chutkan is known for handing down sentences of at least 14 days for Capitol riot defendants who’ve entered her courtroom.
During the sentencing hearing of Capitol rioter Mazzocco, she condemned the Trump supporters as a ‘very real danger’ to democracy, CNN reported.
Prosecutors recommended home confinement for Mazzocco’s misdemeanor charge but Chutkan reportedly disagreed.
US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan (left, pictured attending Antonin Scalia’s memorial) was randomly assigned Donald Trump’s lawsuit (pictured leaving Trump Tower on Oct. 18)
‘There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home,’ she said in court.
Chutkan said the rioters had ‘soiled and defaced the halls of the Capitol.’
She went after Trump directly when she said Mazzocco didn’t go to the Capitol on January 6 ‘out of any love for our country.’
‘He went for one man,’ the judge said.
She also slammed comparisons to earlier Black Lives Matter protests in DC.
‘To compare the actions of people around the country protesting, mostly peacefully, for civil rights, to a violent mob seeking to overthrow the lawfully elected government is a false equivalency and downplays the very real danger that the crowd on January 6 posed to our democracy.’ Chutkan said.
An earlier case of Chutkan’s made headlines in 2019 when she sentenced Russian spy Maria Butina to 18 months in prison for conspiring to infiltrate the National Rifle Association.
That sentence was in line with the government’s recommendation.
In his lawsuit filed on Monday Trump panned the bipartisan January 6 committee’s quest for information as ‘harassment.’
He said their request for documents was ‘illegal, unfounded and overbroad.’
‘The Committee’s request amounts to nothing less than a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition openly endorsed by Biden and designed to unconstitutionally investigate President Trump and his administration,’ the lawsuit read.
The committee, led by Democrat Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Republican Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, requested the National Archives turn over White House records related to the Capitol riot.
The January 6 panel is looking for White House records related to the Capitol riot
Joe Biden greenlit an earlier batch of documents to be handed over earlier this month, but Trump claims he can still assert executive privilege over it if Biden won’t.
The panel also sent subpoenas to people in Trump’s orbit including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, ex- Pentagon official Kash Patel, his former social media aide Dan Scavino and political strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon has refused to provide testimony until Trump’s assertion of executive privilege has been resolved by a court or through negotiations with the committee.
A full House vote on whether to hold Bannon in contempt is taking place today.
Trump’s lawyer in the lawsuit is Jesse Binnall of Virginia law firm Binnall Law Group. He has not returned a request for comment.
Binnall previously defended onetime Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty in DC federal court to a false statement charge amid the FBI investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Trump pardoned Flynn in November 2020.
Judge Chutkan will be overseeing another Capitol riot case today. Defendant Troy Smocks pleaded guilty last month to threatening to harm law enforcement on his social media.
A lawyer for Smocks has asked for a sentence of about nine months, as time already served incarcerated.
Chutkan is married to fellow Obama appointee Associate Judge Peter Krauthamer of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The former Democratic president picked him for the 15-year term in 2011.