The defense team for former President Donald Trump has stated that the trial on charges of obstructing the 2020 election is scheduled to begin on March 4, 2024.
It is believed by Trump’s team that there may be a way to delay or prevent it from occurring: The US Supreme Court is about to make a crucial decision regarding presidential immunity.
Trump has already seen his request for immunity in a civil case seeking to hold him accountable for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 denied, although typically presidents are immune from most lawsuits.
The lack of any significant progress in the appeal of that ruling over the last year could potentially provide an example for how Trump’s legal team might go about attempting to delay his Washington criminal trial related to his alleged attempts to manipulate the 2020 election.
It is likely that they will argue that Trump should be granted wide-reaching immunity from prosecution for activities conducted while in office, although this has yet to be requested in court.
“Trump’s attorney John Lauro said that the Supreme Court hadn’t ruled on the bounds of executive immunity in a criminal case. His preview of the immunity issue failed to persuade US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to adopt the 2026 trial date that Trump wanted, but Lauro said that if the Trump team does pursue it, they’ll likely ask her to pause the criminal trial until the issue is fully resolved,” Yahoo reported.
“The strategy is a long shot because US appellate judges typically frown on hearing cases until there’s a final judgment and there’s a history of public officials prosecuted over actions they took while in office, said Brandon Fox, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw public corruption cases in Chicago and central California,” the outlet added.
The report continued:
The Supreme Court has ruled on issues related to when presidents and executive branch officials can be civilly sued or subject to criminal investigations. Still, no sitting or former president has been federally indicted before.
In 1982, the justices ruled in Nixon v. Fitzgerald that a president was entitled to “absolute immunity” against civil damages claims related to their official actions. In 1997, the court explored how to handle allegations related to private conduct, holding that then-President Bill Clinton could face a civil lawsuit over events that predated his time in office.
And in 2020, the justices held that Trump wasn’t entitled to immunity as president against a grand jury subpoena for his tax records in connection with a criminal investigation by New York state prosecutors — a probe that ultimately led to charges earlier this year accusing him of falsifying business records.
The Justice Department has traditionally maintained a policy against prosecuting sitting Presidents, yet the Biden Administration appears to have adopted an alternate course of action as we approach the 2024 election. Donald J. Trump has entered a plea of not guilty in response to federal charges that he allegedly sought to manipulate the 2020 presidential election’s results unlawfully.
These indictments refer to events occurring between November’s general election and the attack on January 6th, all of which Mr. Trump has denied any involvement with. To date, four criminal cases have been brought against the former President this year.
Last month, a judge ruled that claims made by then-President Trump regarding the 2020 election were protected under presidential immunity.
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Erdos stated that a state election worker could not sue Trump despite his assertions casting doubts on the outcome of the election in Pennsylvania.
Notably, Pennsylvania had voted for him in 2016, but ultimately went for Joe Biden in 2020.
“Erdos said Trump’s immunity covered a tweet he issued and comments he made remotely from the White House during a Pennsylvania state Senate committee hearing in November 2020. The statements, made without evidence, claimed fraud in Pennsylvania’s election tabulations,” The Hill reported.
According to Erdos’ ruling, Trump has immunity for the tweet and remarks made at the state Senate hearing, as they were made while he held office. However, the lawsuit also includes claims concerning a letter Trump wrote to the House Jan. 6 committee last October, which is not covered by this immunity as it was written following his tenure in office.
Erdos determined that the two earlier statements were connected to his official duties due to him addressing public matters whilst holding office.
“Here, then-President Trump’s Gettysburg remarks and his tweet were public,” Erdos wrote. “Moreover, the topic of these statements—claims from third parties and the President himself about irregularities in the Presidential election which on their face called into question the integrity of the election and whether now-President Joseph Biden had been duly elected—was undoubtedly a matter of great public concern.”