Trump Spreads Apparent Hoax in Attacking Judge’s Daughter

It was an explosive claim from Donald J. Trump, just weeks before his Manhattan criminal trial is set to begin: He assailed the judge’s daughter on Wednesday, saying she had used an image of the former president behind bars as a social media profile picture.

The photo made it “completely impossible for me to get a fair trial,” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social. He demanded that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, recuse himself.

But there was a problem with his claim: The New York State Court system says the account on X is bogus.

Although the handle once belonged to the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, she deleted it about a year ago, a court spokesman said. Someone else — it is unclear who — has since taken it over. Its profile picture is now a childhood portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris.

“The X, formerly Twitter, account being attributed to Judge Merchan’s daughter no longer belongs to her,” said Al Baker, the spokesman for the state’s Office of Court Administration. “It is not linked to her email address, nor has she posted under that screen name since she deleted the account. Rather, it represents the reconstitution, last April, and manipulation of an account she long ago abandoned.”

It is hardly the only online hoax that Mr. Trump has promoted over the years, but unleashing apparently false claims concerning the judge’s daughter just weeks before the trial begins represents an escalation on his part.

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