President Obama’s nominee for district judge, Tanya Chutkan, has suspended the trial schedule for the 2020 election case involving former president Donald Trump pending the outcome of the appeal regarding his claim of presidential immunity.
Chutkan denied Trump’s petition to discharge his lawsuit on the basis of presidential immunity in early December. As a result, Trump filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chutkan has consented to a temporary suspension of all legal proceedings, including pre-trial deadlines, pending the outcome of the appeals court’s decision.
The interruption could potentially disrupt the scheduled trial of Special Counsel Jack Smith on March 4th, thereby increasing the probability that the former president will not face prosecution until the aftermath of 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 submitted a petition petitioning the Supreme Court to deliberate on the matter of presidential immunity on Monday, before the D.C. Circuit renders its decision. In light of the agreement to expedite the review of the petition, the Supreme Court has issued a request for comments from legal counsel for Trump no later than December 20th.
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) December 13, 2023
Chutkan expressed her intention to reassess the decision to keep the trial date on March 4 once the appeal is completed. She observed that the halt does not deprive her of the authority to “enforce the measures it has already imposed to protect the integrity of these proceedings,” which includes the gag order placed 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.