Judge postpones Trump D.C. election trial pending appeal

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    Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters as he departs for his second civil trial after E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her decades ago, outside Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Jan. 26, 2024.

    Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

    A judge on Friday indefinitely postponed the election interference criminal trial of former President Donald Trump, which was scheduled to start March 4 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

    The postponement is the result of a pending appeal from Trump challenging the right of the U.S. Department of Justice to charge him in the case, where he is accused of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

    Trump says he has presidential immunity from prosecution because the alleged crimes relate to actions he took while still in the White House.

    That appeal has yet to be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    Trump is certain to ask the Supreme Court to hear his appeal if the circuit court rules against him, as is special counsel Jack Smith if the appeals court rules against that prosecutor.

    If the Supreme Court accepts an appeal on that issue, it could take longer than March 4 to decide how to rule.

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    Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision to postpone Trump’s trial in Washington could clear the way for him to stand trial starting in late March in another criminal case in New York.

    He is charged in that Manhattan Supreme Court case with falsifying business records related to a hush money payment his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

    Trump, who is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, separately is charged in two other criminal cases.

    He is charged by Smith in Florida federal court with crimes related to retaining classified government records after he left office, and obstructing efforts by officials to recover those records.

    He also is charged in Atlanta state court with conspiracy for his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss to Biden in Georgia.

    Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of his criminal cases.

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