In a scathing rebuke of former President Donald Trump, Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan has denied his motion to strike references to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot from his upcoming election crimes trial.
Chutkan, who is presiding over the case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, accused Trump of making “inflammatory and unsupported accusations” against President Joe Biden and of seeking to “generate prejudice” in the jury pool. She further noted that Trump has failed to provide any evidence that potential jurors have been prejudiced by pretrial publicity.
“Defendant’s sixteen-page Reply In Support of the Motion, despite making numerous inflammatory and unsupported accusations of its own,” Chutkan wrote, “devotes only a single paragraph to the prejudice requirement.“
The judge emphasized that the jury will not receive a copy of the indictment during deliberations, and that the court will take steps to prevent them from being exposed to irrelevant or prejudicial material. She also pointed out that the jury will be instructed on the specific charges against Trump and the evidence they may consider in their deliberations.
Chutkan’s ruling is a significant blow to Trump’s defense team, which had hoped to prevent the jury from hearing about the Capitol riot, which many people believe was incited by Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election being stolen.
The judge’s decision is also likely to be seen as a victory for Special Counsel Smith, who is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Smith’s indictment against Trump includes four felony charges: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers have argued that the charges against him are politically motivated. However, Chutkan’s ruling suggests that the judge is taking a dim view of Trump’s attempts to evade responsibility for his actions.
The trial is scheduled to begin in March 2024.