Who is Tanya Chutkan, the judge assigned to the latest Trump case?

Chutkan is an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

August 1, 2023, 7:34 PM

Former President Donald Trump now faces a third set of charges after a grand jury handed up another indictment against him on Tuesday in the special counsel's 2020 election ongoing investigation.

The indictment alleges that Trump undertook a "criminal scheme" to undermine the results of the 2020 election and charges him with four felony counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has been assigned the case, according to the court docket.

Chutkan is an appointee of former President Barack Obama. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June 2014.

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Chutkan received a bachelor's degree in economics from George Washington University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, according to her D.C. District Court biography.

PHOTO: In this undated handout photo, Judge Tanya Chutkan of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, is shown.
In this undated handout photo, Judge Tanya Chutkan of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, is shown.
United States Courts via The New York Times via Redux

She worked in private practice and then for the District of Columbia Public Defender Service early in her law career before joining the law firm Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP, where she worked for 12 years and specialized in white-collar criminal defense, according to her biography.

As a district judge, Chutkan previously rejected an effort by Trump to block the release of documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Chutkan has also been known for handing out some of the most severe sentences for rioters charged in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

At a sentencing hearing in October 2021 for a Texas man who had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for joining the storming of the Capitol building, Chutkan went beyond the sentence recommended by federal prosecutors, which she described as too lenient given the danger posed by the insurrection.

While prosecutors recommended three months under home confinement and probation for Matt Mazzocco, Chutkan said in a ruling "there have to be consequences" for those involved in an attempted violent overthrow of a branch of the U.S. government, "beyond sitting at home."

"If Mr. Mazzocco walks away with probation and a slap on the wrist, that's not going to deter anyone trying what he did again," Chutkan said. "It does not, in this Court's opinion, indicate the severity -- the gravity of the offenses that he committed on Jan. 6."

She ultimately sentenced Mazzocco to 45 days in jail plus 60 hours of community service.

Trump has been summoned to appear in court on Thursday in Washington, D.C., for his latest indictment.

Prosecutors say the alleged scheme included enlisting a slate of so-called "fake electors" targeting several states, using the Justice Department to conduct "sham election crime investigations," enlisting the vice president to "alter the election results" and doubling down on false claims as the Jan. 6 riot ensued -- all in an effort to subvert democracy and stay in power.

Special counsel Jack Smith called the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol "an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy."

The aim of the attack was "obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government and the nation's process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election," Smith said following the unsealing of the indictment.

Speaking to ABC News after the indictment was unsealed, Trump described the new charges as a "pile-on."

"It's election interference," the former president told ABC News, saying he is "doing very well in the polls” and that he believes he will defeat President Joe Biden in 2024.