Trump immunity appeal could delay trial until after 2024 election

December 9, 2023

A key part of former President Donald Trump's legal strategy in dealing with four indictments and at least two civil trials is to delay everything until after the election if possible.

His decision to appeal a rejected immunity claim in the trial related to the 2020 election could bring that case to a standstill for months and succeed in delaying at least that trial beyond November 5, 2024.

The Trump legal team on Thursday said they would appeal a ruling that Trump does not have immunity from prosecution because he is president.

Judge Tanya Chutkan has scheduled the trial to begin in March 2024--around eight months before the election and before the Republican nominee is chosen.

Will the delays work?

There have already been some delays in the case, though, and many experts think a delay announcement for the start of the trial will be coming soon.

An appeal could be fast-tracked, or it could take many months to resolve. In the meanwhile, Trump argues that the rest of the case needs to stop.

"It is very possible that all of this extends well past when the trial is supposed to start," said Erica Hashimoto, a professor at Georgetown Law and an expert on federal appeals courts. "If what former President Trump wants is delay, he can get delay this way."

Trump has already been accused by Jack Smith's office of trying to  "delay and disrupt" the trial schedule at "every opportunity."

But why wouldn't he use delays to his advantage as much as possible? His opposition would do the same in a heartbeat if it benefitted them.

A way out

A delay in the Washington D.C. trial that Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election could have a ripple effect on the other criminal trials Trump faces.

Reuters reported that none of the other cases are likely to go to trial before that one, which means Trump would not have to face a potential conviction before voters go to the polls.

Polling has stated that a conviction could turn enough voters away from Trump to cause him to lose the general election.

“There’s all kinds of possible ramifications from a delay in this particular case because of the circumstances of him potentially becoming the president,” former chief of the Justice Department’s public corruption section Andrew Lourie said.

If Trump is elected before any of the cases are adjudicated, he could pardon himself from the two federal cases and put the state cases on hold until he is out of office.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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