Special Counsel Smith's D.C. election case against Trump no longer listed on D.C. court's trial calendar

February 2, 2024
by
Ben Marquis

Former President Donald Trump was originally slated to begin trial on March 4 in D.C. district court in the federal 2020 election case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, but that date is no longer in effect.

In fact, a recent review of the D.C. district court's calendar has revealed that Trump's federal election trial has effectively been canceled as the case no longer appears on the court's schedule for March 4, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The removal of the March 4 trial date from the court's calendar, while certainly a substantial blow to Smith's apparent goal of rapidly prosecuting and convicting the former president before the 2024 election, is not at all unexpected as the entire case was placed indefinitely on hold in December pending the eventual resolution of an appeal on Trump's claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution.

D.C. election case no longer listed on court calendar

On Wednesday, CBS News reporter Scott MacFarlane posted to the X platform a screenshot of the D.C. district court's calendar for March 4, which notably no longer includes the case of U.S. v. Trump that was previously scheduled to begin jury selection and a jury trial on that day under U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

The reporter wrote, "Amid the wait for an appeals court ruling on Trump's claim of 'Presidential immunity' and other potential delays .... the Washington D.C. federal court no longer lists USA v. Donald Trump criminal trial on its calendar for March 4, 2024."

D.C. case was indefinitely paused in December pending appeal resolution

The Washington Post reported that of the four criminal prosecutions that former President Trump is facing, the election interference case brought by Special Counsel Smith in D.C. federal court was initially slated to be the first to go to trial, though the tentative trial start of March 4 has long been in doubt.

In December, after Trump filed an appeal of Judge Chutkan's dismissal of his presidential immunity claims, the judge placed an indefinite hold on all proceedings in the case until after the D.C. Circuit Court, and likely also the U.S. Supreme Court, issued a final ruling on Trump's claimed immunity from prosecution for acts that occurred while he was still the president.

With the D.C. election case now no longer on the D.C. district court's schedule, The Post noted that the New York state-level criminal prosecution of Trump, where he is charged with falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments during the 2016 election, now appears to be the first case against the former president that will go to trial.

That New York case, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg -- which is also widely regarded as the weakest of the four criminal cases against Trump -- is scheduled to begin on March 25, though that date isn't 100% guaranteed either.

Possibility that none of the four criminal cases go to trial this year

Politico reported this week on the apparent success thus far of former President Trump's tried-and-true litigation strategy of delay, in this instance with the likely goal of pushing back at least the two federal trials he faces until after the election in hopes that should he win re-election, he could then instruct the Justice Department to drop the charges or issue a pardon for himself.

With the D.C. election case now off the court's schedule, that trial will now be delayed at least several weeks or months, if not longer, while the federal classified documents case brought by Special Counsel Smith in South Florida, which is tentatively scheduled to begin trial on May 20, will also almost certainly be delayed by several weeks or months or longer due to the complexities of the case plus the painstakingly time-consuming procedures that must be followed in handling classified materials in a court setting.

As for the two state-level cases against Trump, a trial date hasn't even been set yet in the elections-related Georgia case, which also features a rather complicated prosecution involving multiple defendants and racketeering charges, and it is widely suspected that the trial won't get underway until some point in early 2025, if at all.

Then there is the New York hush-money case, which would bring only minimal punishment if Trump were convicted on all counts and may not even go to trial at all, as Trump's attorneys are fighting to dismiss the charges that most legal experts agree are a stretch and never should have been filed at all.

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