On Friday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declared the postponement of the March 4 trial date in Donald Trump’s election interference case. The delay is attributed to the legal impasse resulting from the former president’s claims of legal immunity, hindering the progress of the case.
Judge Chutkan asserted that a new trial date would be set “if and when” Trump’s legal claims are resolved by a three-judge panel in an appeals court, which conducted oral arguments in early January. In a press conference, she acknowledged the disruption the case had caused to her scheduling, stating uncertainty about her mid-April agenda.
Since Special Counsel Jack Smith issued the indictment six months ago, it has been evident that Trump’s legal team aims to prolong the trial until after the November presidential election. If Trump secures a victory before a ruling is delivered, he could direct his attorney general to dismiss charges or seek a self-pardon.
Judge Chutkan initially set the March 4 trial date in August, emphasizing a “prompt and efficient resolution of this matter” and rejecting Trump’s team’s plea for a 2026 trial. However, she halted proceedings in December to allow Trump’s legal team to pursue the claim of immunity from prosecution.
An appeals court in D.C. expedited the consideration of the claim but has not yet reached a verdict despite a swift schedule and signaling skepticism toward the immunity argument. Even if the court rejects Trump’s claims, further appeals are likely, contributing to additional delays.
University of Texas at Austin law professor Stephen Vladeck expressed surprise at the court’s delay, considering the initial speed of the appeal process. He suggested that the court, composed of two Biden appointees and one George H.W. Bush appointee, might be taking time to reach a unanimous decision and avoid public perception of division.
The decision deals a setback to federal prosecutors aiming for an early trial date. In December, Smith’s office sought Supreme Court fast-tracking of Trump’s immunity case, but the request was swiftly rejected, providing a significant victory for Trump.
As a consequence of Judge Chutkan’s decision, the New York state trial on charges of illegally arranging hush payments to Stormy Daniels is more likely to be the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go before a jury, currently scheduled for March 25.