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Left: FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) Right: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd during a caucus event, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette via AP)

Judge gives Trump, lawmakers and police in Jan. 6 lawsuit months of breathing room for ‘immunity-related discovery’

Left: FILE – Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) Right: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd during a caucus event, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Geoff Stellfox/The Gazette via AP)

A federal judge gave Donald Trump until September to complete discovery specific to immunity issues he wishes to raise in a long-standing civil legal battle involving police who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 and a number of current and former lawmakers who say they were forced to flee the 2020 electoral certification because of the mob Trump raised.

The order from U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta sets a deadline of Sept. 11 — and without any extensions to be granted absent a “concrete showing of good cause,” it states — for both parties to complete this stage of discovery.

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    This consolidated series of lawsuits stems from a complaint made by lawmaker plaintiffs Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the former chairman of the now-defunct House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as lead plaintiff Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and nine other current or former House members. In addition to Trump, the Lee-led plaintiffs have named the since-dissolved Proud Boys organization and its imprisoned leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, as the former president’s co-defendant.

    The plaintiffs say Trump’s use of intimidation was not part of his official role as president and that this conduct impeded them from discharging their duties. They have been in a protracted battle just to get their lawsuit rolling: Mehta only weeks ago denied Trump’s request for an “indefinite ” stay of discovery. This case started in 2021.

    Mehta’s ruling this week now means that the parties won’t have to present discovery on the immunity issues until a little under two months before the general election.

    Depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court treats its answer to Trump’s immunity challenge — and the justices do seem split — it could drastically alter the way this case and, moreover, special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of similar alleged Jan. 6 crimes against Trump, proceeds.

    Attorneys for the parties did not immediately respond to request for comment on Tuesday.

    Should the Supreme Court opt to remand the immunity question back to the lower courts, specifically, putting the question back to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan who is presiding over Trump’s Jan. 6 criminal conspiracy case in Washington, D.C., it would mean the lawmakers’ and police civil case would plow ahead but it would not likely go to trial until sometime in the New Year.

    Mehta, an appointee of former President Barack Obama and a onetime public defender, said Trump’s legal team as well as attorneys for the consolidated plaintiffs must provide a joint status report to the court by May 29 and then provide a new joint status report every 30 days thereafter featuring an update on their progress respective to discovery.

    Though the two-page order is short on further details, the judge notably specified that he has “no opinion” at this time on Trump’s position that the congressional Jan. 6 committee’s final report should not be viewed as evidence in the case.

    “If the parties wish a resolution of that dispute before the close of discovery, they should propose a briefing schedule,” Mehta wrote in the April 29 order.

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