US federal judge stays Trump’s 2020 election interference case pending appeal News
The White House, Public domain
US federal judge stays Trump’s 2020 election interference case pending appeal

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference criminal case in Washington DC stayed further trial court proceedings on Wednesday pending an appeal before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The court’s decision comes just two days after the US Supreme Court agreed to take up the issue as federal prosecutors seek to maintain the March 4, 2024 trial date.

Judge Tanya Chutkan agreed to stay the trial court proceedings while Trump appeals her earlier rejection of his claim of “absolute presidential immunity.” The issue is currently on appeal before the DC Circuit. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the very same issue on Monday after Special Prosecutor Jack Smith requested that the high court weigh in.

In her order to stay the case, Chutkan wrote, “[T]he court agrees with both parties that [Trump’s] appeal automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation.” As a result, all deadlines and proceedings previously scheduled by the court are put on hold—potentially jeopardizing the court’s March 4, 2024 trial date for the case.

The March 4, 2024 trial date has been at the center of much of the legal back-and-forth between Trump and federal prosecutors. Trump has repeatedly sought to delay trial, suggesting that the court delay court proceedings until after the 2024 election, in which he is the current leading candidate for the Republican Party. In an August filing, Trump requested an April 2026 trial date to allow for “adequate time to defend himself.”

Smith has repeatedly pushed back against any effort to delay the trial, including in his filing to the US Supreme Court. In Smith’s request that the Supreme Court address Trump’s claim of immunity, instead of waiting for the normal appellate process to play out, he said, “It is of imperative public importance that [Trump’s] claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected.”

Despite Chutkan’s decision to stay the trial court proceedings, certain trial court measures remain in the case. Included among those measures are the conditions of Trump’s release, protective orders over discovery material and the recently amended gag order on the former president and his counsel.