Trump wins delay in classified documents case

By 
 July 9, 2024

Donald Trump won another delay in his classified documents trial, part of a legal cascade flowing out of the Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity.

Judge Aileen Cannon agreed to delay some deadlines to allow Trump's lawyers to argue that he is immune from prosecution.

The case was already in limbo, with no trial date set. It now appears even less likely that prosecutor Jack Smith will finish the case before the 2024 election.

Trump wins delay

Trump's lawyers had previously asked to dismiss the case on the grounds of immunity in February. In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, Trump's lawyers asked Cannon to pause the case and let Trump's lawyers further develop their immunity argument, with a proposed schedule stretching into September.

The Supreme Court ruled on July 1 that presidents are immune from prosecution for official acts. Trump's lawyers quoted from Chief Justice John Roberts, who said "[q]uestions about whether the President may be held liable for particular actions, consistent with the separation of powers, must be addressed at the outset of a proceeding.”

Trump's lawyers also quoted Clarence Thomas, who wrote a concurring opinion that sharply questioned Smith's authority to prosecute Trump.

"Resolution of these threshold questions is necessary to minimize the adverse consequences to the institution of the Presidency arising from this unconstitutional investigation and prosecution," Trump's lawyers wrote. "A partial stay is also appropriate to prevent further exploitation of judicial institutions and resources by Executive Branch personnel in connection with the shameful ongoing lawfare campaign."

Trials in limbo

In a ruling Saturday, Cannon postponed two deadlines in the case and gave Jack Smith until July 18 to respond to Trump's request.

The decision is another win for Trump, who has sought to delay his criminal trials past the 2024 election.

Smith has furiously pushed to prosecute Trump before then, but it is increasingly unlikely Smith will be able to meet his political timetable.

Smith's other federal prosecution of Trump, dealing with January 6th, is also in limbo. The Supreme Court's immunity ruling gutted Smith's indictment and left it to a trial judge to determine which acts are still prosecutable - making it all but certain Trump won't be prosecuted before the election.

Meanwhile, Cannon has delayed the documents trial indefinitely over unresolved pre-trial issues.

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