Image of the judge’s daughter being politicized and manipulated after Trump was indicted
Following US President Donald Trump’s April 4, 2023 indictment on criminal charges related to hush money payments to an adult film actress, his supporters confiscated an innocuous photograph of the judge presiding over the case. Juan Kaufmanand his daughter, and took to social media to imply the trial was a partisan attack on Trump.
Merchant became a subject of scrutiny after conservatives claimed his daughter Loren Merchan previously worked for Democrats. On the day of the arraignment, Trump’s sons shared this allegation on their social media accounts. Donald Trump Jr tweetwhich included the photo of Merchan and his daughter soon went viral.
“Seems relevant… yet another connection in this handpicked Democrat show trial,” Don Jr. wrote. “The BS never ends folks. The daughter of the judge in the Trump case worked on the Biden-Harris campaign.” The tweet included a link to a Breitbart article. He shared the same image and article truthsocial.
Eric Trump Posted — and then deleted — a tweet that said: “They’re all handpicked. It’s all arranged in advance. At another level, this corruption is business that the Biden-Harris campaign has as clients.”
The photo, taken from the Flickr account of SUNY Geneseo’s alumni office (Loren Merchan’s alma mater), went viral as a political tool for Trump supporters whose goal was to cast doubt on the judge’s impartiality by drawing attention to his daughter’s work in Democratic political campaigns. Snopes has fact-checked claims that she worked for the campaigns of Harris and US President Joe Biden and found them to be true. Loren Merchan served as Director of Digital Persuasion for Kamala Harris’ 2020 Presidential campaign. She also worked indirectly for the Biden-Harris 2020 presidential campaign through a communications firm that provides services to progressive campaigns.
Many on the web argued that sharing the father-daughter photo puts the judge’s family at additional risk. “Because nothing says ‘innocent’ like threatening a judge’s family,” tweeted Democratic US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
The photo was shared just hours after Judge Merchan warned Trump in court to “please do not comment or engage in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, cause civil disorder, or endanger the safety or well-being of any person.”
It didn’t take long for a manipulated version of the photo to circulate, in which Loren Merchan’s likeness was digitally edited to exaggerate her cleavage, along with insinuations that the father-daughter relationship was somehow kinky and creepy. The claim has had tens of thousands of likes and shares at the time of this writing.
(Screenshot via Twitter)
This isn’t the first time we’ve fact-checked photos of women who have been manipulated to spread sexual innuendos, particularly women related to prominent men. We previously reported a false claim that conservative media personality Ben Shapiro tweeted about his “hot” and “beautiful” sister. The claim was accompanied by digitally manipulated photos of her.
We find that the portrayal of male public figures as “perverts” involved in questionable relationships with women in their own families is a common motif of online disinformation and appears to be widespread across the political spectrum.
Caralle, Katelyn. “Judge’s daughter in Trump’s case worked for Kamala and Joe Biden.” Mail Online, April 4, 2023, April 5, 2023.
Kasprak, Alex. “Did the judge’s daughter in the Trump hush money case work for the Harris and Biden campaigns?” Snopes, April 5, 2023, accessed April 6, 2023.
Lilies, Jordan. “Did Ben Shapiro tweet about a ‘hot’ and ‘beautiful’ sister?” Snopes, March 23, 2022, accessed April 5, 2023.
“Oh look, Trump’s sons are suddenly taking care of court conflicts of interest!” Jezebel, April 4, 2023, April 5, 2023.
Shapero, Julia and Zach Schonfeld. “Judge warns Trump to refrain from social media posts that could incite violence.” The Hill, April 4, 2023, accessed April 6, 2023.
“Who is Juan Merchan, the no-nonsense judge overseeing Trump’s case?” BBC News, April 4, 2023. www.bbc.com, April 5, 2023.
“Who is Juan Merchan, the New York judge handling Trump’s case?” AP NEWS, April 3, 2023, April 5, 2023.
Wang, Kristina. “Daughter of Judge in Trump Case Worked on Biden-Harris Campaign.” Breitbart, April 4, 2023, accessed April 5, 2023.