Obama-appointed District Judge Tanya Chutkan paused former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election trial schedule while the appeal for his presidential immunity claim is pending.
In early December, Chutkan rejected Trump’s bid to have his case dismissed based on presidential immunity, prompting Trump to appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chutkan agreed Wednesday to pause pre-trial deadlines and further proceedings pending the appeals court’s decision.
The pause could throw Special Counsel Jack Smith’s targeted March 4 trial date into jeopardy and increase the chance that the former president is not put on trial until after the November 2024 presidential election.
“[T]he court agrees with both parties that Defendant’s appeal automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant,” Chutkan wrote Wednesday.
Judge Chutkan just put a hold on further proceedings in the federal case against Trump. Smith has worked doggedly to keep the trial scheduled for just before Super Tuesday. This could endanger that date and make it more difficult to try Trump before the election…
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) December 13, 2023
Smith asked the Supreme Court to take up the presidential immunity question Monday before the D.C. Circuit reaches a decision. The Supreme Court agreed to expedite its consideration of his petition, asking Trump’s attorneys to weigh in by Dec. 20.
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) December 13, 2023
Chutkan said she would re-consider whether to maintain the March 4 trial date after the appeal is resolved. She noted that the pause does not strip her of jurisdiction to “enforce the measures it has already imposed to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings,” including the gag order imposed on the former president.
“If jurisdiction is returned to this court, it will—consistent with its duty to ensure both a speedy trial and fairness for all parties—consider at that time whether to retain or continue the dates of any still-future deadlines and proceedings, including the trial scheduled for March 4, 2024,” Chutkan wrote.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung called Chutkan’s decision to stay proceedings in the case a “big win” for the former president.
“This is a big win for President Trump and our rule of law, as it derails Deranged Jack Smith’s rush to judgment strategy of interfering in the 2024 Presidential Election in support of Joe Biden’s campaign,” Cheung said. “They waited almost three years to bring this hoax ‘case’ and are now desperately trying, and failing, to rush it because they know President Trump is dominating the election.”
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