As soon as U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan set the trial date in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 case against Donald Trump for March 4, the former president posted a predictable tirade on his bootleg Twitter app crying “Election Interference!” and, among other things, vowing to appeal the scheduling decision.
“I will APPEAL!” he intoned.
As multiple legal experts on Twitter have noted, that’s not a thing. Trump can’t appeal the trial date, but he can try to delay it via pretrial motions.
Trump’s lawyers have already made their displeasure with the scheduling decision known in court. As Chutkan set the date for jury selection Monday, Trump’s lawyer John Lauro immediately objected to the date, saying that Trump’s team would abide by the rules, but he claimed attorneys would not be able to pull together an adequate defense by then, TPM reported this morning.
“Your objection is noted,” Chutkan responded.
Trump has a storied past of flinging out what could be perceived as a legal strategy in the wake of bad news, only to never actually raise those strategies or defenses in court. That’s usually because they’re not real legal strategies — they’re PR spin meant to be picked up and run with by the media. A simple Google search of “Trump + appeal + trial date” this afternoon will illustrate the success of that maneuvering playing out in real time.
A good past example of this chicanery: In the wake of the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort a year ago this month, Trump and his lawyers repeatedly argued either on Truth Social or during media interviews that Trump had telepathically “declassified everything” that was handled or taken from the White House improperly. It was a non-serious defense that got lots of play in the media, but one that, shockingly, was never seriously raised in court.
Another example of this dynamic played out during today’s hearing as well. Trump and his lawyers have been relentlessly telling reporters ever since Smith released the Jan. 6 indictment that his team will seek a venue change in order to avoid what they believe will be a biased jury pool in Washington, D.C. While there have only been a few official proceedings in the Jan. 6 case, Trump’s lawyers have not yet raised the venue change gambit in court.
Today, prosecutors did it for them.
From our live coverage:
Government Brought Up Trump’s Change In Venue Gambit
While Trump and his lawyers have not yet raised the prospect of changing the venue for the trial in court, it’s an argument the team has raised repeatedly on social media and during media interviews.
After Chutkan set the trial date, Smith’s team brought up the change in venue gambit. Chutkan said she would be watching carefully for anything that might poison a jury pool and asked the defense if they intend to conduct polling to back up their belief that a D.C. jury would be biased against Trump.
Prosecutors said they would want to know about a poll if it was conducted. Lauro said the defense wouldn’t want to share it with the government.
Chutkan informed Lauro that she would need to know before a poll is conducted in the first place.
— Emine Yücel and Nicole Lafond
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
The latest from Kate Riga: Ohio Abortion Rights Group Goes To State Supreme Court Over ‘Misleading’ Ballot Proposal Language
On the Georgia front: Meadows Makes Surprise Move To Take Stand In Removal Proceeding
Catch up on our live coverage here: Judge Chutkan Expected To Set Trial Date In Trump Jan 6 Case
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
With Streamers It’s the Same Old Story — Josh Marshall