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Chutkan contemplates Trump trial extending deep into 2024, as case remains in limbo

The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., criminal case acknowledged Monday that the former president’s trial could extend deep into 2024 — though significant uncertainty continues to cloud the timeline.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan told attorneys in another criminal case that she intended to be out of the country in early August — unless Trump’s trial is underway.

“I hope not to be in the country on August 5,” Chutkan said in a sparsely attended conference for the other criminal case, one of more than 1,200 stemming from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. If she is stateside, Chutkan added, that will be because “I’m in trial in another matter that has not yet returned to my calendar.”

Chutkan’s comment was a clear reference to Trump’s case, which has been on hold since December as a federal appeals court considers whether Trump should be deemed “immune” from charges related to his conduct as president.

It was Chutkan’s first public acknowledgment that Trump’s trial — on charges related to his effort to subvert the 2020 election — could extend past the GOP nominating contest and the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled to be held July 15 to 18. However, for the second time in a week, the Obama-appointed judge emphasized that the schedule is largely out of her control.

On Friday, Chutkan formally called off Trump’s original March 4 trial date and indicated she would reset it “if and when” higher courts resolve the immunity issue and allow her to proceed with a trial. She said at the time that her schedule in mid-April and beyond remained in flux because of uncertainty surrounding the case.

Now, she seems to be considering longer-term scenarios. Notably, prosecutors in Georgia have proposed putting Trump on trial in August in a separate criminal case connected to the 2020 election, though the request remains pending before the judge in the case, Scott McAfee.

Chutkan has repeatedly insisted that Trump’s political calendar will have no bearing on her decisions. Trump is charged with conspiring to disenfranchise millions of voters by pressuring state and federal officials to upend Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election based on false claims of fraud. She has described the matter as weighty and urgent, requiring a fair but speedy resolution, and she rejected Trump’s call to schedule it in 2026.

With Trump’s March 4 trial date now canceled, Chutkan scheduled a separate Jan. 6-related trial to begin that day. She has another Jan. 6-related trial scheduled for April 2 and a sentencing on April 10.

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