Republicans Accuse Federal Judge Of Election Interference

Following the announcement that U.S. Federal Judge Tanya S. Chutkan will hear opening remarks in the election interference case against former President Donald Trump on March 4, 2024, one day before Super Tuesday. Republicans see the decision to begin the trial as an effort by Chutkan and special prosecutor Jack Smith to harm Trump’s chances as he seeks a return to the White House.

Chutkan offered an explanation for setting the trial date the day before Super Tuesday saying that Trump is being treated like any other citizen. She said that if Trump were a professional athlete, she would not set a trial date to accommodate the season.

Trump’s lawyers cried foul, citing the fact that the case currently includes more than 12 million documents and the legal team will need to interview at least 350 witnesses. Attorney John Lauro was seeking a trial date sometime in 2026 to give the team time to complete their work. Lauro said on Monday that he is concerned about Trump’s Due Process rights being sacrificed as a result of the trial schedule and his campaign conflicting.

Trump’s legal team has few options available to change the trial date. Speaking to the Washington Post, Law Professor Paul Rothstein said that one of the few ways that a trial date can be changed is through a writ of mandamus. This process is typically reserved for instances where proceeding with the trial would cause irreparable harm to the defendant that could not be remedied through a traditional appeal. In the past, higher courts have refused to grant writs of mandamus even in instances where a judge has made a clearly wrong decision.

Rothstein said the argument raised by Trump’s lawyers that they would not have the time to properly defend him is likely to fail, as that harm could be dealt with through an appeal. However, Rothstein points out that a claim of interfering with the results of the 2024 presidential election might survive muster.

Despite Chutkan’s claim that Trump is being treated as an ordinary citizen, supporters were quick to point out that several of the defendants in the January 6 case were held in local jails for over two years before being tried.

Trump is facing six trials in 2024 that includes the trial scheduled for March 4, a second federal case involving documents at Mar-a-Lago, and three state cases, two of which will be in New York. Trump is also expected to appeal his guilty verdict in the sexual assault and defamation case in the New York Supreme Court.