OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
For the time being, at least, we can cross off one Democratic fantasy from the list.
Newsweek reports that U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan will not jail former President Donald Trump in the event that he disobeys the court’s strict gag order in the case pertaining to the Capitol intrusion on January 6, 2021, despite pressure from the Department of Justice.
A footnote to Chutkan’s Sunday ruling reinstating the gag order contained some positive news. In the footnote, Chutkan turned down a request from the prosecution to condition the former president’s release on his compliance with the gag order’s restrictions.
“The government also asks the court to incorporate the Order into Defendant’s conditions of release …,” she wrote in the first footnote of the ruling. “Even assuming that request is procedurally proper, the court concludes that granting it is not necessary to effectively enforce the Order at this time.”
Nevertheless, Chutkan lifted the gag order following a brief suspension in response to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request from last month. Smith had contended that Trump’s remarks regarding the accusations and the characters in the case might scare witnesses and obstruct the prosecution.
Chutkan wrote that “the right to a fair trial is not (Trump’s) alone, but belongs also to the government and the public.”
Court dates for former President Trump are beginning to pile up and are going to have a significant impact on his ability to campaign for the 2024 GOP nomination, coming at the height of the primary season.
For now, Trump, who is the Republican primary frontrunner by quite a bit, is free to travel and is without restrictions as he seeks to challenge President Joe Biden in a rematch next year. Currently, he has federal cases pending in Washington, D.C., and Florida. In addition, he is facing state charges in Georgia and New York.
Finally, Trump is facing challenges to his qualifications to run for president. A case involving a provision of the 14th Amendment to bar him from the ballot began on Monday in Colorado, and similar cases have been filed in Minnesota and elsewhere. Finally, Trump is currently facing a civil fraud trial in New York City related to his businesses, Center Square noted.
“Trump attorney Christopher Kise, for the first time this week, requested permission to appear in the Florida classified documents case by phone while defending Trump in his civil case in New York,” the outlet reported. “Kise wrote in a motion that is unable to attend the Nov. 1 hearing in person ‘because he is engaged at trial in New York State Supreme Court in another case wherein he represents President Trump.’”
The outlet noted further that federal prosecutors did not oppose Kise’s motion to attend via phone.
In Washington, Trump faces four counts related to the aftermath of the 2020 election. In Florida, meanwhile, he faces several counts related to his possession of classified documents.
Trump’s legal team has protested his trial dates for months. Trump himself has called the crowded legal calendar “election interference.” And to that end, he may be about to catch a break in the Florida case.
The just overseeing it, Aileen Cannon, hinted on Wednesday that she could delay the trial until after the election, per Politico. It is currently scheduled to begin on May 20.
“I’m just having a hard time seeing how realistically this work can be accomplished in this compressed period of time, given the realities that we’re facing,” Cannon, a Trump appointee, told attorneys during a court session. She also said she’ll make “reasonable adjustments” to the schedule, such as deadlines for pretrial filings.
However, while she did not explicitly say she would delay the trial, pushing back key deadlines could have a ripple effect and push the actual trial start date beyond the November 2024 election.
A Democratic lawmaker and rising star within the party, meanwhile, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in late August he has concerns about trial dates regarding former President Donald Trump as the 2024 campaign season heats up.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) told Hewitt that the leading GOP presidential candidate’s legal troubles should not “compromise” his ability to campaign.
His comments came after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan set a March 4 date for Trump’s Jan. 6-related trial to begin, which is one day before the “Super Tuesday” primaries.
Though the lawmaker noted the trial date could still actually be moved, Hewitt said it represented a “terrible insult to our idea, our fundamental commitment to fair proceedings,” and asked Khanna if he agreed.
The Democrat first acknowledged the importance of the timing in the Jan. 6 case specifically.
“Well, I’m not sure that that’s going to be the actual date at the end of the day. There’s appeal; there’s an ability to move it. I mean, let’s see what happens. So, I’m not, I’m a member of Congress. It’s not for me to make the decisions on where the trial dates are going to happen,” said Khanna.
“My instinct on all of this is they’re not going to have trials in the middle of something that’s going to compromise a candidate’s ability to have a fair fight. I just don’t see that happening in our country,” he claimed.