Judge in Trump election interference case won’t strike Jan. 6 references from indictment

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to strike references to the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, from his federal election interference indictment in a case that is set to go to trial in just over three months.

Trump sought to have certain passages struck from the indictment, which was returned in August, on the grounds that they would inflame the jury and create bias against him even though he has not been charged with any crimes of violence. 

But U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in an order Friday that there was no risk of the indictment creating bias with the jurors because they will not be getting a copy of the actual indictment to refer to during deliberations. The jury selection process will be able to weed out any potential jurors who have already read the indictment and been exposed to the references to violence, she added.

“Regardless of whether the allegations at issue are relevant, Defendant has not satisfied his burden to clearly show that they are prejudicial,” Chutkan wrote.

Trump’s motion, she wrote, makes “numerous inflammatory and unsupported accusations” and “devotes only a single paragraph to the prejudice requirement,” in which the former president claims the jury pool has been “exposed to the Indictment and its inflammatory and prejudicial allegations, through media coverage relating to the case.” But Trump’s motion “fails to cite even one example of that evidence,” she wrote.

“In any event, the voir dire process will allow the court to examine and address the effects that pretrial publicity, including any generated by Defendant, has had on the impartiality of potential jurors,” Chutkan wrote. “When trial begins, the court will also take steps to screen from the jury any irrelevant and prejudicial material that either party seeks to introduce. Moreover, before the jurors deliberate, the court will instruct them on the actual charges and the evidence they may consider in their deliberations.”

In its filing, Trump’s legal team argued, “Because the Government has not charged President Trump with responsibility for the actions at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, allegations related to these actions are not relevant and are prejudicial and inflammatory.”

In a supplemental filing, Trump’s team argued that “not a shred of evidence suggests President Trump called for any violence or asked anyone to enter the Capitol unlawfully.”

A Trump lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Chutkan’s ruling.

The judge’s ruling comes as a federal appeals court is set to hear arguments Monday about a limited gag order that Chutkan imposed on Trump in the election interference trial, one of four criminal cases that the leading Republican presidential candidate is facing and one of two federal cases brought forward by special counsel Jack Smith. The gag order was temporarily paused until the appeals court hearing.

More than 1,200 people have been charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol, and online sleuths who have aided cases against hundreds of the rioters say that about 1,000 additional participants have been identified but not yet arrested.

Trump’s trial is scheduled to begin March 4, 2024. The former president has pleaded not guilty.


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