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Judge Scraps Trial Date for Trump Election Subversion Case

The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election issued an order on Friday scrapping the March 4 trial date for the case.

The order by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan was a formal confirmation of what had seemed fairly obvious for weeks. It came after she had made a series of veiled hints that she was going to delay the trial as Mr. Trump pursues an effort to have the underlying charges tossed out with an argument that he enjoys complete immunity from prosecution.

In her order, Judge Chutkan said that she would set a new date for the proceeding in Federal District Court in Washington “if and when” Mr. Trump’s immunity claims are resolved.

The immunity claims are now in front of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has been mulling the issue since oral arguments were heard on Jan. 9. The panel, which expressed skepticism about Mr. Trump’s position, has yet to return a decision after setting an extremely aggressive schedule for briefings to be filed.

The appellate process started in December after Judge Chutkan rejected a sweeping effort by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to have the election subversion case dismissed because the charges arose while Mr. Trump was in the White House. After the former president asked the appeals court to step in and reverse Judge Chutkan’s ruling, she put all of the proceedings in the underlying case on hold until the issue was settled.

The decision to strike the March 4 date means that Mr. Trump’s trial on state charges in New York of helping to arrange hush payments to a porn star in the run-up to the 2016 election may now become the first of the former president’s four criminal cases to go in front of a jury.

That trial, which is scheduled to start in Manhattan on March 24, has been slowly moving forward as the Manhattan district attorney’s office has begun to approach witnesses to prepare them for the proceeding, including Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer.

Still, it is not entirely certain that the hush money trial in New York City will start before the election subversion trial in Washington. Justice Juan M. Merchan, who is overseeing the hush money case, has set a hearing for Feb. 15 to determine the timing of his trial.

But if Mr. Trump’s appeal of the immunity issue is resolved quickly and Judge Chutkan sets a new trial date in Washington for late April or early May, it is possible that Justice Merchan may step aside and let the election subversion case go first.

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