Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan told special counsel Jack Smith to stop submitting court filings without her permission in the 2020 election subversion case against Donald Trump, after the former president’s legal team complained that proceedings were supposed to be on hold.
But Chutkan did not hold Smith’s team in contempt, as Trump’s legal team suggested she do.
In addition, the judge indicated pre-trial deadlines could be pushed back, noting the pause in the proceedings while issues in the case are on appeal. A trial is currently set for March, but scheduling changes could delay that.
The dispute, which highlights the procedural challenge the prosecutors are up against, arose after Smith’s team handed over more evidence to Trump’s legal team as part of discovery and argued in court filings against potential defense trial strategies.
Trump has tried to exploit the current delay in the case during the appeal and push his trial off until after the presidential election, while prosecutors have wanted to continue prepare for trial as much as they can.
Chutkan’s decision on Thursday is in line with what Trump’s team had sought from her in recent weeks.
The pause in the case relieves Trump’s team from the “burdens” of trial preparation at this time, but the prosecutors aren’t prevented from continuing their work.
The case is on hold until the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, decides key questions about immunity around the presidency and gives further direction what should happen next for Trump’s case.
Chutkan said she hadn’t previously “unambiguously forbid” the prosecutors from making filings while the case is paused. Her order on Thursday “does not reflect a determination that the Government has violated any of its clear and unambiguous terms or acted in bad faith,” the judge added.
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