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Trump legal news brief: Judge Chutkan’s move indicates delay in Trump’s Jan. 6 trial

In World
January 25, 2024

Judge Tanya Chutkan announces that a trial she will oversee for Jan. 6 defendant Anthony Mastanduno will begin on April 2, making it clear that former President Donald Trump’s trial on election interference charges will be pushed back. Here are the latest court developments for the former White House occupant seeking reelection in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Chutkan scheduling decision indicates Trump’s trial will be delayed

Key players: Jan. 6 defendant Anthony Mastanduno, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, United States Supreme Court

  • In a court docket filing issued Wednesday, Chutkan announced she had scheduled a trial for Mastanduno to begin on April 2, a clear indication that Trump’s trial, which was supposed to begin on March 4, would indeed be delayed.

  • Chutkan had already indicated that the trial would be delayed. Last week, she issued an order preventing special counsel Jack Smith from filing motions in the case without permission, Politico reported, while Trump pursues his appeals of Chutkan’s ruling that presidential immunity claims do not protect him from being prosecuted for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the matter, but if that decision goes against him, Trump is expected to take his appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Wednesday’s announcement made it likely that the earliest Trump’s federal election interference trial could begin would be mid-April.

  • Mastanduno is charged with “civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, both felony offenses,” according to the Department of Justice.

  • He is one of 1,265 people who have been arrested and charged for their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building to try to block the Electoral College certification of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in 2020.

  • At least 749 defendants have been sentenced so far, with at least 467 of them receiving prison time, the DOJ said.

Why it matters: Trump has long sought to delay the trial proceedings in the many cases against him. Polls have consistently found that a criminal conviction could significantly diminish his support among voters in 2024.

Recommended reading

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Tuesday, January 23

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The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denies a request by former President Donald Trump to lift or revisit a gag order put in place by Judge Tanya Chutkan in the federal election interference case designed to prevent him from commenting about witnesses and courtroom staff in the case. Here are the latest legal developments for the former president hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Appeals court rejects Trump request to consider lifting gag order

Key players: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Tanya Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith, United States Supreme Court

  • On Tuesday, the court denied a request by Trump’s lawyers to rehear arguments on whether to lift a gag order put in place by Chutkan aimed at preventing Trump from disparaging witnesses and courtroom staff in the federal election interference case against him, ABC News reported.

  • None of the 11 justices on the appeals court requested a vote on the issue of reexamining the gag order. That means that the Supreme Court is Trump’s only remaining venue to challenge the gag order.

  • In December, a federal appeals court also upheld the gag order.

  • Trump is not prevented from criticizing Smith, the appeals court ruled.

  • The election interference case brought by Smith is on hold until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on whether presidential immunity protects Trump from prosecution stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: As with the question of presidential immunity, the Supreme Court could now be the final lifeline for Trump in terms of his ability to defy Chutkan’s attempts to keep him from attacking those who appear in her courtroom.

E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit

COVID fears push back Trump testimony until Wednesday

Key players: Judge Lewis Kaplan, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, columnist E. Jean Carroll

  • Trump is expected to take the witness stand on Wednesday in the second civil defamation trial brought by Carroll after Kaplan delayed the proceedings due to the illness of a juror, USA Today reported.

  • On Monday, the juror was tested for COVID-19, and Habba also indicated that she had been exposed to the virus.

  • Habba asked Kaplan to postpone the proceedings until Wednesday so that Trump could travel to New Hampshire, which is holding its presidential primary on Tuesday.

  • The trial is expected to wrap up this week.

Why it matters: It remains unclear whether Trump, who continues to defame Carroll, will take the witness stand in his own defense. His persistent attacks on her character and his denial that he never sexually assaulted her even though a separate jury concluded that he did, could prove costly.

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