The scheduled trial date for Donald Trump’s criminal case in Washington, D.C., on March 4 has been officially canceled. The decision was made by federal judge Tanya Chutkan, who expressed concerns about the lingering uncertainty surrounding the case and its potential impact on her trial calendar.
The trial date was rescinded, with Chutkan indicating that it would be rescheduled “if and when” the immunity issue, which Trump is pursuing in higher courts, is resolved.
The charges against Trump are related to his attempts to undermine the 2020 election. The trial, if it proceeds, is anticipated to span several months.
In a sparsely attended proceeding, Judge Chutkan implicitly acknowledged the challenges posed by the case’s uncertainty to her scheduling. She mentioned the difficulty in predicting her schedule in mid-April during a conference aimed at scheduling the sentencing of a Jan. 6 defendant convicted last year of breaching the Capitol.
Although Trump’s case wasn’t explicitly mentioned during the conference, Chutkan made it clear that she is keeping her calendar flexible to accommodate any potential rescheduling.
She recently set the trial date for another Jan. 6 defendant, Anthony Mastanduno, to begin on April 2, indicating that she doesn’t foresee Trump’s trial happening before the latter half of that month. Chutkan informed Mastanduno that his trial might need to be moved based on other matters.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently deliberating on the immunity question raised by Trump’s legal team. Until this matter is resolved, evidentiary motions and other pretrial proceedings in Trump’s case are on hold. The eventual ruling by the D.C. Circuit is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, introducing further delays to the proceedings.
Chutkan’s hands are tied until the higher courts settle the immunity issue, preventing her from advancing Trump’s case. Key pretrial deadlines have been suspended, and if the case were to restart immediately, Chutkan would need to reschedule these deadlines.
Nearly 60 days have passed since Trump’s immunity claim halted the proceedings, suggesting that even with a green light, the trial might be set for late April or early May.
Chutkan acknowledged the heightened scrutiny on her scheduling decisions and emphasized the interpretative nature of her words.
During the attempt to schedule the sentencing for another defendant, Antony Vo, Chutkan acknowledged the uncertainty in her trial calendar and expressed confidence in finding a solution.
She set Vo’s sentencing date for April 10, anticipating that she would likely be in trial, but the exact trial remained uncertain. Chutkan reassured the attorneys involved that they would make it work, recognizing the uncertainties in her own trial calendar.