Supreme Court stalls Trump’s fed elec trial while weighing his immunity bid

Source: Politico | February 28, 2024 | Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

Supreme Court stalls Trump’s federal election trial while weighing his immunity bid

The justices will hear arguments in late April on whether Trump is immune from the charges. In the meantime, the case will remain frozen.

Donald Trump’s federal trial for seeking to subvert the 2020 election is likely to remain on hold for several more months while the Supreme Court takes up his argument that he is immune from prosecution for actions he took while president.

In a one-page order Wednesday, the court set an expedited schedule to hear the immunity issue, with oral arguments to be set during the week of April 22. In the meantime, proceedings in the trial court will remain frozen.

There was no noted dissent or other explanation of the high court’s action.

If the court rules on the matter quickly after the arguments and rejects Trump’s immunity claim, it may permit a trial on the election-related charges to occur later this summer or fall.

But the court’s decision to keep the pretrial proceedings frozen is a blow to special counsel Jack Smith’s effort to bring Trump to trial this year. Smith has charged Trump with four felonies stemming from his bid to subvert the 2020 presidential election.

Trump claims that, as a former president, he enjoys broad immunity from criminal prosecution for acts taken while in office. Lower courts have rejected that claim, but proceedings in the trial court have been paused for more than two months while Trump has litigated the novel immunity question.

In Wednesday’s order, the Supreme Court granted Trump’s emergency request to maintain that pause while the justices hear Trump’s immunity appeal.

If they ultimately rule that Trump has immunity, the charges will be thrown out. If they deny the immunity bid by the end of their term in June, it may still be possible for the trial judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, to schedule a trial to begin in late summer or fall.


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