Tanya Chutkan: Who is the judge presiding over Donald Trump's January 6 case?

Washington judge has handed down some of harshest sentences for those convicted in Capitol attack

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Administrative Office of the US Courts / AP
Powered by automated translation

A judge who has ruled against Donald Trump and is a tough critic of the events of January 6 in Washington is to preside over the former president's criminal case for his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington was randomly assigned to the case after Special Counsel Jack Smith's office indicted Mr Trump on three counts of conspiracy and one account of obstruction.

Mr Trump has maintained his innocence and claims, without evidence, that the indictment will be used to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.

Ms Chutkan has presided over a ruling that have gone against Mr Trump.

Mr Trump tried to block the January 6 House Committee from obtaining White House records, citing executive privilege. But that was denied by Ms Chutkan, who said that Congress had a strong interest in obtaining those records.

She also said only President Joe Biden had the authority to waive executive privilege, rejecting Mr Trump's claim that executive privilege "exists in perpetuity".

“Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not president,” she wrote.

Her ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court.

A tough January 6 sentencer

Ms Chutkan has also presided over a handful of cases for people who participated in the deadly 2021 assault on the Capitol Building.

And she is among a handful of Washington judges to sentence those convicted to harsher punishments than suggested.

In December 2021, she sentenced Robert Palmer to more than five years in prison after he was convicted for attacking police officers who were protecting the Capitol. It was the longest prison sentence in connection to the events issued at the time.

"It has to be made clear … trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers is going to be met with certain punishment," Ms Chutkan said.

Ms Chutkan has imposed prison sentences for every January 6 case she has handled, a database compiled by the Washington Post shows.

Ms Chutkan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and received her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

She was appointed to the US District Court for the District of Columbia in 2014.

Updated: August 02, 2023, 12:31 PM