Judge pauses Trump’s Jan. 6 case

A federal judge agreed Wednesday to pause proceedings in former President Trump’s election interference case while he appeals a decision rejecting his efforts to toss the case.

The decision from Judge Tanya Chutkan “automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant.”

Trump last week appealed an order from Chutkan that rejected his motion to dismiss the Jan. 6 case, likewise asking that she halt activity in the case while his appeal proceeds.

The move comes as Trump has argued the courts should dismiss the case both on the concept of presidential immunity, as well as on constitutional grounds, including the First Amendment.

The maneuver by Trump threatens to upend a March 4 trial date in the case and comes after prosecutors have argued the former president is simply using every avenue possible to disrupt the case in the hopes of punting the matter beyond the 2024 election.

Special counsel Jack Smith followed Trump’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with his own petition to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to weigh in on Trump’s immunity defense.

Smith likewise asked the court to expedite the matter, which it agreed to, setting Trump’s deadline to respond by Dec. 20. 

The Trump campaign called it 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,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. 

“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.”

Chutkan’s ruling does not stay a gag order in the case or Trump’s conditions of release, which bar contacting witnesses or seeking to intimidate them.

Still, the matter could mean significant delays in a case where the government has fought any effort to bump back deadlines.

Though the election is nearly a year away, it’s unclear how long the appeals process could take, and Chutkan noted that while her deadlines are “held in abeyance,” she may need to ultimately delay the trial.

“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,” she wrote.

Chutkan last Friday rejected arguments from Trump that, as a former president, he still carries presidential immunity.

“Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass, Former Presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability,” she wrote.

Beyond arguments that Trump, as a former president, still carries presidential immunity, in a 31-page brief filed in October, he likewise argued the prosecution represents a case of “double jeopardy” as he already faced an impeachment trial in the Senate following Jan. 6.

Trump’s motion had also argued his prosecution “criminalize[s] core political speech” as he had a right to raise questions about the election.

“The fact that the indictment alleges that the speech at issue was supposedly, according to the prosecution, ‘false’ makes no difference,” his attorneys wrote. “Under the First Amendment, each individual American participating in a free marketplace of ideas — not the federal Government — decides for him or herself what is true and false on great disputed social and political questions.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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