Supreme Court Ruling Means Trump Trial Likely Won’t Happen Before Election, Ex-Prosecutors Say

Supreme Court Ruling Means Trump Trial Likely Won’t Happen Before Election, Ex-Prosecutors Say
(Left) Special counsel Jack Smith in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Right) Former President Donald Trump. (Drew Angerer, David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Multiple legal analysts and former federal prosecutors suggested Monday that former President Donald Trump’s Washington trial likely won’t happen before the November election after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6–3 ruling declaring presidents have immunity for official acts.

The high court, however, noted in the order that not all acts are official, telling lower courts to decide which acts detailed in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against the 45th president qualify as official and unofficial. The opinion also found that former President Trump is “absolutely immune” from prosecution for alleged conduct involving discussions with the Justice Department.

With the July 1 order, a handful of prominent former federal prosecutors and law professors suggested the Trump trial in Washington won’t happen anytime soon.

“There won’t be a trial in the DC case before the election,” Randall Eliason, a law professor with George Washington University, wrote on social media.

“There could, however, be extensive court hearings on the allegations in the indictment to determine which are immune,” he said, referring to the then-president’s actions after the 2020 election.

Noting that the Supreme Court’s opinion requires U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the Trump case, to conduct an analysis on whether the former president’s actions were “official acts,” it will likely “require briefing and factual findings that will delay this trial until after the election,” wrote Renato Mariotti, a former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade, who frequently appears on MSNBC as a legal analyst, noted that because the case was remanded to the district court, it’s likely a trial won’t be held until after the election in November.

After that, there is the a “possibility of additional appeals” from former President Trump, wrote former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance, also an MSNBC analyst.

Fox News analyst and George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, meanwhile, wrote that the Supreme Court decision “will further delay the lower court proceedings, but Trump will have to argue that his actions fall within these navigational beacons.”

“The lower court judge has been highly favorable for Jack Smith in the past,” he continued. “Yet the court is arguing that there is a presumption of immunity for their official acts beyond the absolute immunity on core constitutional powers.”

Former President Trump hailed the high court’s opinion as a victory, saying on social media that it’s a “win for our Constitution and Democracy” and that he’s “proud to be an American.”

After the indictment was handed down against the former president last year, Mr. Smith had frequently argued that the special counsel’s office wanted a “speedy trial” in the Washington-based election case.

Previous arguments submitted by former President Trump’s counsel to delay the trial “would deny the public its right to a speedy trial, the defendant cites inapposite statistics and cases, overstates the amount of new and non-duplicative discovery, and exaggerates the challenge of reviewing it effectively,” the Smith team wrote in August 2023 in court brief submitted to Judge Chutkan.

In arguments before the Supreme Court in April, Michael Dreeben, an attorney for the special counsel’s office, told the justices that “the president has no functions with respect to the certification of the winner of the presidential election.”

“So it’s difficult for me to understand how there could be a serious constitutional question about saying ‘You can’t use fraud to defeat that function, you can’t obstruct it through deception, you can’t deprive millions of voters of their right to have their vote counted for the candidate who they chose,’” Mr. Dreeben added.

Should former President Trump win the 2024 election, he could pardon himself or appoint an attorney general to dismiss the charges in both Washington and Florida.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented from the majority opinion. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote: “Today’s decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.”

In the case, the Smith team indicted the former president on charges stemming from what they allege were illegal efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election. The former president has pleaded not guilty.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Smith’s office for comment on July 1.

From The Epoch Times