Appeals court sets January date in Trump's immunity fight

 December 21, 2023

Joe Biden just got some bad news: the appeals court in Washington D.C. has set a date to hear Donald Trump's claim that he is constitutionally immune from criminal charges over January 6th.

The dispute over whether Trump is immune from Jack Smith's charges of "election subversion" has threatened to delay the trial beyond Election Day, in which case Trump might never face a jury.

That would likely work to Biden's detriment by forcing him to battle Trump on his own merits.

Date set

The appeal will be heard by a George H.W. Bush appointee, Judge Karen Henderson, and two Biden judges, J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan.

The odds of Trump winning in such a forum don't look great, but beyond the merits, Trump's appeal is seen as a tactical effort to slow down Smith's prosecution - which Trump calls a blatant effort to get Biden re-elected.

Many say Smith gave away his objective by asking the Supreme Court to leapfrog Trump's appeal in the D.C. Circuit, which will hear both sides present their arguments on January 9.

Henderson signaled she would rather wait for the Supreme Court to decide on Smith's petition first.

At the crux of the controversy is Trump's claim that his allegedly criminal actions to undermine the 2020 election fell within his official duties.

District court judge Tanya Chutkan dismissed Trump's immunity claims in a ruling that accused him of claiming the divine right of kings.

Trump fires back

Trump's team filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Wednesday urging the justices to reject Smith's rushed timeline.

Smith has gestured vaguely at the "public interest" in a quick resolution to the issue. Trump's team blasted Smith for confusing the "public interest" with Biden's intense partisan interest in beating Trump.

They also noted that the historic and "complex" questions raised by the case require careful consideration, not a rushed process.

"Importance does not automatically necessitate speed. If anything, the opposite is usually true,” Trump’s team wrote.

The Supreme Court has separately taken up the appeal of a January 6th protester charged with one of the same crimes as Trump, which could further complicate Smith's efforts to prosecute Trump before the election.

Biden opined this week that Trump is an insurrectionist, although Smith declined to press such charges against Biden's opponent.

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Thomas Jefferson
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