Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Exaggerated Claims Circulate About Judge Merchan’s Family

Este artículo estará disponible en español en El Tiempo Latino.

Quick Take

Social media posts seeking to discredit the judge who presided over former President Donald Trump’s criminal case in New York have been circulating online. Contrary to a popular meme, the judge’s wife works for a Republican district attorney, not the Democratic state attorney general, and his daughter was not personally paid by a high-profile Democrat.

Full Story

A jury found former President Donald Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn star in an attempt to influence the 2016 election. The judge overseeing the New York criminal case, Justice Juan Merchan, has been the target of several false or misleading claims, many of them from Trump himself.

Another claim is circulating online, this time saying that Merchan’s family is “corrupt.”

The New York court building where Justice Juan Merchan presided over former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial is in Manhattan. Photo by Rainer Mirau/stock.adobe.com

The meme, which has been shared on various social media platforms, references Rep. Adam Schiff — a Democrat from California who has been a frequent target of partisan misinformation since he led the first Trump impeachment proceedings — and New York Attorney General Letitia James — another Democrat who has also been targeted with misinformation after she brought a civil fraud case against Trump and his organization that resulted in a judgment of more than $450 million. The meme claims that Merchan’s “daughter was paid $4M by Adam Schiff” and “his wife works with Letitia James.”

Schiff’s 2020 campaign paid the political marketing firm run by Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, and Lara Merchan, the judge’s wife, used to work for the state attorney general’s office but no longer does.

The claim connecting Loren Merchan to Schiff has been made by conservative online outlets before. For example, conservative commentator Julie Kelly laid it out in an April 1 post on her substack.

There, she accurately says that Schiff’s campaign paid $4 million in the 2020 election cycle to Authentic Campaigns, the political marketing agency where Loren Merchan works. Merchan is listed as the president on the company website, and Justice Merchan wrote in an August 2023 ruling that his daughter is the president and chief operating officer at Authentic.

But the meme goes even further, suggesting that Schiff paid Loren Merchan directly, which is inaccurate, and claiming it is evidence of a “corrupt” family.

According to records from the Federal Election Commission, it’s true that Schiff’s House campaign committee spent about $4 million on digital advertising and consulting with Authentic in 2019 and 2020. His Senate campaign so far has spent more than $12 million with Authentic during the 2024 election cycle, FEC records show.

On May 31, 2023, Trump’s legal team had raised the issue of Loren Merchan’s political work in an effort to get the judge to recuse himself. About six weeks earlier, Justice Merchan sought an opinion on the issue from the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, which found no reason for recusal.

“[T]he matter currently before the judge does not involve either the judge’s relative or the relative’s business, whether directly or indirectly,” the committee wrote in its May 4, 2023, opinion. “They are not parties or likely witnesses in the matter, and none of the parties or counsel before the judge are clients of the business. We see nothing in the inquiry to suggest that the outcome of the case could have any effect on the judge’s relative, the relative’s business, or any of their interests.”

And, as we’ve written before, one of Trump’s own lawyers has said that he saw no bias on Merchan’s part. In an interview on CNN in April 2023, Joe Tacopina — who withdrew in January from representing Trump in the New York criminal case — said Merchan “has a very good reputation.”

“I have no reason to believe this judge is biased,” Tacopina said, before Trump’s legal team unsuccessfully sought Merchan’s recusal.

So, the potential conflict of interest posed by Loren Merchan’s job has already been discredited by the judicial ethics committee, and a former Trump lawyer on the case has said there’s no reason to think the judge is biased.

Regarding the meme’s claim about Merchan’s wife’s current job — that’s inaccurate.

Lara Merchan works in the Nassau County district attorney’s office. Currently, that office is led by District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly, who is a Republican.

According to Lara Merchan’s LinkedIn profile, she did work in the New York state attorney general’s office from November 2000 to March 2022. That means she would have worked for about three years under James, who took office in January 2019, and has been working for Donnelly for more than two years.

Merchan’s LinkedIn page says that she had worked as a “special assistant attorney general,” and, according to the attorney general’s website, the office has more than 1,700 staff members and more than 700 assistant attorneys general.

But, as we said, she left that job in 2022 and has been working for the Nassau County district attorney since then.

So, both claims made in the meme stretch the facts to make the unsupported claim that Merchan’s family is “corrupt.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


Farley, Robert and D’Angelo Gore. “What’s in Trump’s Indictment?” FactCheck.org. Updated 30 May 2024.

Robertson, Lori, et al. “Trump’s Repeated Claims on His New York Hush Money Trial.” FactCheck.org. 30 May 2024.

Kiely, Eugene. “Judge Hasn’t Ruled on Trump’s Graduation Request.” FactCheck.org. Updated 17 May 2024.

Jaffe, Alan. “Trump Plans to Attend Son’s Graduation and GOP Fundraiser, Contrary to Online Claim.” FactCheck.org. Updated 17 May 2024.

KielyEugene, Lori Robertson and Robert Farley. “Examining Trump’s Claims on His Arrest and Arraignment.” Updated 10 Apr 2023.

Jalonick, Mary Clare. “Schiff sets tone of impeachment case, says ‘right matters.’” Associated Press. 23 Jan 2020.

Hale Spencer, Saranac. “Social Media Posts Inflate Net Worth of N.Y. Attorney General.” FactCheck.org. 29 Mar 2024.

Authentic. “Our Team.” Authentic.org. Accessed 3 Jun 2024.

State of New York v. Donald J. Trump. Ind. No. 71543-23. Decision on Defendant’s Motion for Recusal. 11 Aug 2023.

Federal Election Commission. Schiff for Congress disbursements to Authentic. 9 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2020

Federal Election Commission. Schiff for Senate disbursements to Authentic. 5 Jan 2023 to 18 Mar 2024.

State of New York v. Donald J. Trump. Ind. No. 71543-23. Memorandum of Law in Support of Donald J. Trump’s Motion for the Court’s Recusal and for an Explanation. 31 May 2023.

New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics. Opinion 23-54. 4 May 2023.

Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. Honorable Anne T. Donnelly, District Attorney. Accessed 31 May 2024.

Bonfiglio, Briana. “Republican Anne Donnelly Declares Victory in Nassau DA Race.” Long Island Press. 2 Nov 2021.

Merchan, Lara. LinkedIn. Accessed 31 May 2024.

Office of the New York State Attorney General. About the Office. Accessed 3 Jun 2024.