Trump motion calls for 'automatic' and 'mandatory' halt to all special counsel proceedings in D.C. court pending appeal

 December 13, 2023

Earlier this month, D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected former President Donald Trump's motion to dismiss his federal 2020 election interference case on the grounds of presidential immunity and double jeopardy, in that he'd already been tried and acquitted on similar charges in his second impeachment trial.

Trump's attorneys appealed that rejection to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and have now also filed a new motion demanding Chutkan halt all proceedings in the district court while that appeal is pending, which would likely have the effect of delaying the scheduled trial start date in March 2024, according to Fox News.

Conversely, while Trump is trying to indefinitely pause those proceedings, Special Counsel Jack Smith made the unusual move of leapfrogging the D.C. Circuit Court to go straight to the Supreme Court with a petition urging them to swiftly settle the presidential immunity question and keep the March 2024 trial timeline in place.

Trump demands "mandatory" pause on all district court proceedings

In an 11-page filing on Tuesday, former President Trump's attorneys called upon Judge Chutkan to issue "an order enforcing the automatic stay of all district court proceedings in this case pending the final resolution of his recently filed appeal from the Court’s December 1, 2023 rulings on, inter alia, Presidential immunity and double jeopardy."

"The filing of President Trump’s notice of appeal has deprived this Court of jurisdiction over this case in its entirety pending resolution of the appeal," the motion argued, citing relevant precedent. "Therefore, a stay of all further proceedings is mandatory and automatic."

The attorneys also cited another case in which "the D.C. Circuit made clear that official-immunity issues must be resolved prior to litigation and discovery on the merits. Thus, in addition to lack of jurisdiction, Blassingame requires the Court to stay all proceedings in this matter pending appeal, including, but not limited to, pretrial motions, defense disclosures relating to trial defenses and evidence, CIPA hearings, and jury selection."

"As a result of these authorities, all current deadlines must be held in abeyance until, at minimum, this motion is resolved. President Trump will proceed based on that understanding and the authorities set forth herein absent further order of the Court," the filing added.

Smith urges SCOTUS to fast-track his prosecution of Trump

Just one day before that motion calling for the trial to be halted, SCOTUSblog reported that Special Counsel Smith skipped over the D.C. Circuit Court and filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court that called for an expedited hearing and ruling on the matter of former President Trump's claimed immunity from prosecution.

There was little denying of the clear intent behind that petition -- to speed up the appellate process and keep with the atypical rapid pace established by Judge Chutkan ahead of a tentative trial start date for the complex federal case in just a matter of months.

Smith's petition essentially acknowledged as much as it admitted this was "an extraordinary request" in "an extraordinary case" and that, unless the high court moved quickly, "it is unclear whether this Court would be able to hear and resolve the threshold immunity issues during its current Term" and before the 2024 election.

The Supreme Court did agree to consider Smith's petition and set a date of Dec. 20 for Trump's attorneys to respond, but there is no indication of if they will actually even take up the case, much less how fast or slow the justices might move on the matter or how they might ultimately rule on the disputed immunity claim.

"No reason to rush this Witch Hunt to trial"

In response to Special Counsel Smith's "extraordinary" Supreme Court petition to speed everything up, an unnamed Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement, "Crooked Joe Biden’s henchman, Deranged Jack Smith, is so obsessed with interfering in the 2024 Presidential Election, with the goal of preventing President Trump from retaking the Oval Office, as the President is poised to do, that Smith is willing to try for a Hail Mary by racing to the Supreme Court and attempting to bypass the Appellate Process."

"'Deranged' may need to be reminded that the Supreme Court has not been kind to him, including by handing down a rare unanimous rebuke when the Court overturned him 8-0 in the McDonnell case," the statement continued. "As President Trump has said over and over again, this prosecution is completely politically motivated. It is an unprecedented attack against Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent -- Banana Republic style!"

"There is absolutely no reason to rush this Witch Hunt to trial, except to injure President Trump and his 150 million, at least, supporters. President Trump will continue to fight for Justice and oppose these authoritarian tactics," the spokesperson added.

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