Supreme Court Agrees To Review Trump's Immunity Claim, Delaying Trial Until At Least Summer

If Trump successfully delays federal prosecutions past November's election and manages to win the White House back, he could order the DOJ to dismiss them.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to decide on its own whether Donald Trump is, as he claims, immune from prosecution for his actions leading up to and during his Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt — thereby delaying a trial on that question until late summer at the earliest.

The former president had asked the high court to stop the clock on his trial proceedings while he could pursue an appeals process that could have extended well into next year. Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, had asked the court to let an appeals court ruling denying Trump’s immunity claim be the last word.

Justices on the high court did not honor that request, but did grant prosecutors’ request to treat Trump’s pursuit of a stay as a request for review of the case itself.

“The Special Counsel’s request to treat the stay application as a petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, and that petition is granted limited to the following question: Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office,” an unsigned order stated.

If the court rules in Trump’s favor and finds that everything he did related to Jan. 6 was an “official act” of a president and immune from prosecution, it would effectively end that case entirely.

The court set oral arguments for April 22. It has ordered lawyers for Trump to file their brief by March 19 and special counsel Jack Smith’s team to respond by April 8.

Smith’s election interference prosecution charges Trump with four felonies: conspiring to defraud the United States; obstructing an official proceeding; conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiring to deprive millions of Americans the right to have their votes counted. If convicted, Trump could face decades in prison.

The former president had complained in a filing to the high court that, absent a delay, he would quickly find himself facing a trial, which would interfere with his campaign to win back the White House in November. He has been arguing, thus far unsuccessfully, that all actions he took while president have immunity from prosecution.

Smith, in his response to Trump’s request for a stay, said that Trump had no legal right for more delay, and that the nature of the case — a former president accused of committing multiple felonies as part of his scheme to remain in office despite losing reelection — made a speedy trial of great importance for American democracy.

Trump also faces a prosecution in Georgia for trying to overturn his election loss in that state, as well as a separate federal prosecution for his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him to his South Florida country club upon leaving the Oval Office. A New York state indictment accuses him of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn star just ahead of the 2016 election, with a trial date set for the end of March.

If Trump successfully delays federal prosecutions past November’s election and manages to retake the White House, he could order the Department of Justice to dismiss them.

Despite all the criminal cases against him, though, Trump appears on the cusp of clinching his third straight GOP presidential nomination by the middle of next month.

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