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US judge pauses Trump 2020 election case while he appeals immunity ruling

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US judge pauses Trump 2020 election case while he appeals immunity ruling © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., December 7, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. judge on Wednesday paused the federal case accusing Donald Trump of attempting to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election while the former president mounts an appeal claiming he is immune from the charges.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Trump’s ongoing appeal temporarily halts all activity that would move the case toward trial, which is scheduled to begin in March 2024.

Trump is appealing Chutkan’s ruling earlier this month rejecting Trump’s bid to dismiss the case based on an argument that he could not be prosecuted for official actions he took as president.

Both Trump and Special Counsel Jack Smith have acknowledged that the former president cannot face trial while his appeal remains ongoing. But Smith sought to keep some aspects of the case active, arguing that the judge could still conduct some pretrial business in the case.

Chutkan ruled that she could enforce her past rulings, including the gag order that limits Trump’s statements about prosecutors and witnesses, while the case is paused. The judge said she would revisit whether to move the trial date once the appeal is resolved.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts accusing him of attempting to defraud the United States and obstruct Congress through schemes to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

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