Well before facing a remarkable string of four indictments in less than five months, Donald Trump had a lengthy history of involvement in thousands of lawsuits as both plaintiff and defendant in civil court.
This extensive experience led him to adopt a consistent legal strategy: delay, delay, and further delay. This approach occasionally proved successful, prompting the former president to employ a similar tactic in his criminal cases.
Notably, in the federal government’s case against him for allegedly attempting to overturn the election, Trump’s legal team sought a trial postponement until April 2026.
This strategic move aimed to (1) shift the trial more than two years into the future and (2) potentially allow him to use a second-term presidency to consider self-pardoning, should he win the 2024 election.
However, this request was met with rejection by the judge overseeing the case. On Monday, Judge Tanya Chutkan set the trial start date for March 4, 2023, in Trump’s trial against the Department of Justice for charges related to election interference.
This decision is likely to irk the ex-president, as it falls significantly earlier than the date requested by his legal team. As a result, Trump might need to manage multiple criminal trials simultaneously—an outcome he would prefer to avoid.
Judge Chutkan’s choice to set the trial for March 2023 underscores the societal interest in expediting the legal process. She indicated that Trump, like any defendant, must accommodate the trial date, regardless of his schedule.
The judge’s reasoning counters Trump’s lawyer’s argument that a 2026 start date was necessary for thorough discovery. Judge Chutkan deemed such an extended timeline to be excessive and unnecessary.
According to reports, Trump has privately expressed his desire to resolve his complex legal challenges by securing an electoral victory. If either of his federal trials is postponed until after a potential election win, he could leverage his presidential powers to pardon himself post-inauguration or even dismiss the cases entirely through the attorney general.
While a scenario in which Trump participates in a presidential race while incarcerated and then seeks to pardon himself from prison is theoretically possible, it would undoubtedly present significant complexities.