Former President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to steer clear, for now, from deciding on his potential immunity from federal prosecution for alleged crimes committed during his presidency. This request is seen as the latest in a series of strategic delays, with an eye possibly on the 2024 election horizon.
Legal Tussles and Political Implications
Trump's approach has been consistent in his criminal cases: prolong the legal proceedings, ideally past the next presidential election. This tactic surfaced starkly less than a day following the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, which disallowed Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot—a decision he is expected to challenge at the US Supreme Court.
Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, now a critic of Trump's 2024 candidacy, remarked, “He feeds on grievance just like a fire feeds on oxygen. And this is going to end up as a grievance that helps him”.On Wednesday, Trump’s legal team urged the Supreme Court to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith’s plea to bypass a federal appeals court.
Smith seeks an immediate decision on whether Trump, as a former president, is immune from charges relating to his efforts to subvert the election after his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden. This case could be pivotal in shaping Trump’s legal future.
Even Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor and a defender of the special counsel’s charges against Trump, has voiced that Trump's electoral destiny should not be in the hands of the courts, but rather decided by the voters.
President Biden, while not directly commenting on the Colorado ruling, didn’t hold back in labeling Trump as an insurrectionist.
“I think it’s self-evident,” Biden stated, adding that the court would decide on the applicability of the 14th Amendment but affirming Trump’s role in supporting an insurrection.Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers openly admit their preference to postpone the federal trial and other looming criminal cases until after the 2024 election. If victorious, Trump could potentially pardon himself.
CNN Supreme Court analyst and law professor Steve Vladeck noted, “Former President Trump’s opposition focuses on the timing of the Court’s review, and not the inevitability of having the court resolve whether he is immune from criminal prosecution eventually”.In their counter to Smith’s request, Trump's attorneys expressed vehement opposition, criticizing Smith’s push for an expedited decision as acting “with reckless abandon”. They argued that the political nature of the case calls for caution rather than haste.