Julie Kelly Commentary: Ties Between Judge Merchan’s ‘Child’ and Adam Schiff Represent Major Conflict in Hush Money Trial

At the end of 2019, Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was leading the first impeachment effort against President Donald Trump.

After months of making accusations and conducting Congressional inquiries related to Trump’s July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a conversation Democrats described as a “quid pro quo” attempting to trade military aid for an investigation into the Biden family’s corrupt business deals — Schiff and six other Democrats delivered articles of impeachment to the Senate in January 2020.

That same month, Schiff’s campaign committee paid a new Chicago-based consulting firm $600,000 for digital media buys presumably to spread the word via email, text, and social media/online advertisements that the California congressman planned to oust Trump.

The firm, Authentic Campaigns, is headed by Loren Merchan (pictured above), the 34-year-old daughter of the New York judge now overseeing the so-called hush money case against Trump. Judge Juan Merchan just set an April 15 trial date for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s multi-count indictment accusing Trump of falsifying business records related to a payout made to former porn star Stormy Daniels over an alleged sexual encounter. (Trump repeatedly denies the allegation.)

Contrary to hand-wringing assertions that the former president and his allies are unfairly “attacking” Judge Merchan’s “child,” Loren Merchan’s lucrative contracts with some of Trump’s most prolific enemies are fair game.

Her ties to Schiff are especially troubling given Schiff’s role in refurbishing the reputation of one of Bragg’s star witnesses: disbarred lawyer and convicted perjurer Michael Cohen.

The Fixer, The Child, and Shifty Schiff

According to Federal Election Commission reports, Schiff’s campaign committee paid Authentic Campaigns more than $3.7 million for digital media acquisitions between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020. In addition to the media buys, Schiff paid Authentic Campaigns $215,000 for “digital consulting fees.”

During the same time period that Merchan’s firm raked in nearly $4 million, Schiff turned Cohen, Trump’s lawyer who paid Daniels $130,000 allegedly to keep quiet before the 2016 election, against his former client.

Merchan’s work for Trump’s biggest antagonist on Capitol Hill helped her earn a coveted “rising star” award from Campaign & Elections magazine in 2020. As president and partner of Authentic Campaigns, the editors swooned, Merchan “is setting new benchmarks” in the digital media space by “doing ground-breaking, historical work for clients like Jon Tester, Kamala Harris, Adam Schiff, and others.”

But that client list represented Trump’s basis for asking Judge Merchan to step down from the case. (Trump’s attorneys also cited Merchan’s attempts to pressure former Trump Organization CEO Allen Weisselberg into accepting a plea deal on tax fraud charges. Weisselberg took the plea offer; Merchan then sentenced the 75-year-old veteran with no criminal record to serve five months at Rikers Island, one of the most dangerous prisons in the country.)

“Your Honor should recuse himself from this case,” Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles, Trump’s defense attorneys, wrote in May 2023. “Your Honor’s daughter’s close connection to President Trump’s political adversaries and her work at, and financial interest in, a firm which is deeply engrained with Democratic politics raises real and legitimate concerns about this Court’s impartiality. The financial well-being of Your Honor’s daughter depends at least in part on the success of Authentic. And Authentic’s business model is one that requires it to attack President Trump and support individuals and causes in direct competition with President Trump.”

Merchan, who has presided over numerous Trump-related cases and will oversee the May trial of longtime Trump confidant Steve Bannon in New York for alleged fraud, denied Trump’s request in August 2023.

Denouncing Trump’s “speculative and hypothetical scenarios” as to how the judge and his daughter would profit off the court proceedings against Trump, Merchan attached to his order a three-page analysis by the New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics to bolster his decision not to recuse.

The committee concluded that the case does not “directly or indirectly” involve Merchan’s daughter. Further, the committee opined, Loren Merchan’s business is “not a [party] or likely [witness] in the matter.”

While perhaps the assessment is technically true, the suggestion that Merchan’s business is unrelated to the proceedings before her father’s court is provably false. Schiff’s testimonial on the Authentic Campaign website bragged how the company “helped me build a digital program that exceeded all my expectations.” Schiff further noted that the firm “allowed me to connect with supporters across California and the country.”

Did that involve using Michael Cohen, who is expected to testify on behalf of the prosecution in Judge Merchan’s courtroom next month, as part of the company’s digital campaign to raise money for Schiff? After all, the $4 million figure paid to Merchan’s firm in 2019 and 2020 represents almost 40 percent of the total disbursements paid out by Schiff’s committee that cycle — no small amount. Did Loren Merchan advise Schiff on any matter related to Cohen?

It is relevant because Schiff was in cahoots with Cohen throughout 2019. Schiff traveled to New York at least four times to meet with Cohen to discuss his February 2019 public testimony before Congress; Schiff later insisted Cohen’s appearance had “bolstered his credibility.”

Twice that year, Schiff’s committee privately interviewed Cohen under the ruse of investigating Trump-Russia election collusion. But committee members also questioned Cohen about the alleged hush money scheme. At one point during the House Intelligence Committee’s deposition, investigators asked Cohen if Trump was speaking in “code” about the alleged hush money payment to Daniels.

Schiff released transcripts of both depositions in May 2019.  “The public also deserves the chance to judge Cohen’s credibility for themselves, including by examining some of the evidence he provided to the Committee.

That same month, Schiff’s committee paid Merchan’s firm $57,500 for consulting and more digital media buys.

Judge Merchan, Not Trump, is Responsible for the Unwanted Scrutiny

Further, Schiff remains a client of Loren Merchan while opining about the case now before Judge Merchan. “If justice demanded that Michael Cohen go to jail for a scheme directed by someone else, justice also requires that the person responsible for directing the scheme must answer for their offenses against the law — and that person is Donald Trump,” Schiff said in a statement released in March 2023.

According to an analysis by the New York Post, Schiff’s Senate campaign committee — he is running to replace the late Dianne Feinstein — has paid Authentic Campaigns more than $10 million. The Post also reported that Schiff cited the Bragg indictment in emails looking for campaign donations, raising questions as to whether Authentic Campaigns was involved in those solicitations.

That alone justifies Merchan’s recusal, but the judge remains intransigent. One could even argue Merchan is goading Team Trump by allowing Cohen to testify, a move Trump opposes, while prohibiting Trump from criticizing his former “fixer.” In a gag order issued last week, Merchan banned Trump from “making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.” The group includes Cohen.

Trump’s lawyers indicated they will file another motion to recuse. If Merchan has any integrity left, he will step aside not just to salvage his own reputation but his daughter’s, too. If he doesn’t, the only individual responsible for so-called “attacks” on his “child” is Judge Merchan himself.

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Julie Kelly is an independent journalist covering the weaponization of the U.S. Government against her citizens, Follow Kelly on Twitter / X.
Photo “Loren Merchan” by Loren Merchan. 



Reprinted with permission from Julie Kelly: Declassified. To read more and subscribe, visit her Substack at DECLASSIFIED.LIVE.

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