Judge pauses Donald Trump's federal election interference trial pending decision on immunity

Former president Donald Trump's election interference trial has been postponed while the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals considers whether he has "presidential immunity" from the charges. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A judge on Friday postponed the trial date in the federal election interference case against former President Donald Trump while awaiting an appeals decision on whether he should be immune from the charges.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan paused the trial, originally set for March 4, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals considers Trump's arguments that he should be immune to charges of election subversion because he was president at the time.

The appeals court has yet to issue a ruling on the matter of immunity. The case is expected to move on to the Supreme Court, which could take weeks or months longer to decide.

The delay is a small victory for Trump. He has repeatedly attempted to delay the trial until after the 2024 presidential election, in which he is the predicted Republican nominee.

Trump faces four counts of election subversion, including conspiring to defraud the United States and to obstruct an official proceeding.

The appeals court last month denied Trump's request to overturn a gag order against him in the case, which Chutkan issued in October in response to a request by federal prosecutors.

The prosecutors told Chutkan that Trump's comments endangered witnesses, court staff and prosecutors.

The delay in the federal trial could have a ripple effect in other criminal cases pending against Trump. He is expected to appear in New York court on March 25 for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15.

The Washington trial could postpone another federal case in Florida, where Trump is charged with hoarding national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

That trial is scheduled for May 20, but judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee in south Florida, invited the possibility of revisiting the trial schedule on March 1. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are still arguing how to handle the documents in the case.

Trump also faces an election interference trial in Georgia, but the state-level judge presiding over the case has not yet set a date.