Prosecutors fight to preserve March 4 trial for Trump

The timing of Trump’s immunity appeal could dictate whether the election-subversion case goes to a jury before the general-election campaign.

Prosecutors are urging a federal judge not to disturb the first trial date former President Donald Trump is facing in his four pending criminal cases, arguing that an appeal he filed last week doesn’t mean all aspects of the election-subversion prosecution pending in Washington have to grind to a halt.

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“In light of the public’s strong interest in a prompt trial, the Government will seek to ensure that the trial proceeds as scheduled,” senior assistant special counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom wrote in a brief court filing Sunday urging the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, to reject Trump’s proposed delays.

The outcome of this fight may determine whether Trump faces any of his four pending criminal trials in 2024. His other three remain in flux or unscheduled. And if the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court consider the former president’s immunity claims on their typical timelines, that may force Chutkan to slow down her own.

While lawyers from special counsel Jack Smith’s team pleaded with Chutkan not to alter the March 4 date, they appeared to concede that Trump’s defense won’t be obliged to respond to most legal issues in the case while his appeal claiming presidential immunity is pending at the D.C. Circuit.

Trump has argued that the entire case must be halted while his immunity appeal is pending because a ruling in his favor would shut down the prosecution. His lawyers also say he shouldn’t be subject to the “burdens of litigation” while his appeal is live.

However, prosecutors said they’ll seek to keep the case on track by meeting their deadlines to file motions to govern the trial proceedings, an exhibit list and other required disclosures, even if the court can’t presently compel Trump to do the same.

“The Government will continue to shoulder its own burden,” Gaston and Windom wrote.

In the case filed in August, Trump faces four charges related to his bid to subvert the 2020 election, including allegations that he conspired to disenfranchise millions of voters and obstruct congressional proceedings. Trump claims he’s immune from prosecution because the bulk of the case relates to his official duties as president.

Chutkan sharply rejected that contention in a significant ruling last month, but the D.C. Circuit or the Supreme Court will have the final word on whether Trump is immune.

In their filing Sunday, prosecutors also argued Chutkan retains authority to enforce a gag order largely upheld on Friday by a D.C. Circuit panel, to make sure evidence shared in the case isn’t improperly made public and to ensure that Trump continues to comply with the conditions the judge imposed as part of his pretrial release.