Supreme Court’s Consideration of Trump’s Immunity Claim Strengthens His Delay Tactic

The Supreme Court decided to weigh whether Trump’s claims of absolute immunity are valid. This puts the D.C. case regarding efforts to subvert the 2020 election in jeopardy of not getting resolved before the elections. 

Historic decision 

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After two lower courts rejected it, most legal experts and scholars believed the Supreme Court would reject absolute immunity claims. However, the highest court in the country wants to hear out Trump’s claims, and it will be up to the justices to make this historic decision. 

Win for Trump 

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By merely deciding to look at the case, SCOTUS handed Trump a victory. In the best-case scenario, the trial, originally scheduled to begin March 4, cannot start until late summer or fall because the Supreme Court will not hear out immunity claims until the end of April. The ruling will likely arrive in June. 

But that’s not all 

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The judge preceding the case had it frozen on December 13. Since the trial was scheduled for March 4, she owes Trump’s team 82 days of preparation time. If the trial starts in September, nothing indicates it will end by the elections. And if Trump wins, the case is over until he leaves the White House. 

Trump’s lawyer’s chilling argument

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 During one court hearing, the former president’s lawyer told a judge that Trump could not be prosecuted even if he had ordered “SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival” since he was not impeached and convicted by the Senate. Despite voting 57-43 to convict him, the Senate failed to provide two-thirds of the votes. 

It still left plenty of room for legal consequences 

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Vaughn Hillyard, NBC News correspondent, shared on X, “From the congressional record (and as tweeted by Sen. Cornyn on February 12, 2021): Trump’s Counsel (Castor) at Senate impeachment trial arguing that the president ‘is subject to criminal sanction after his Presidency for any illegal acts he commits.'” 

The case of presidential immunity, in Trump’s words

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On Truth Social, Trump wrote before the SCOTUS’ decision, “A president of the United States must have full immunity, without which it would be impossible for him/her to properly function.” He continued, “All presidents must have complete & total presidential immunity, or the authority & decisiveness of a president of the United States will be stripped & gone forever. Hopefully this will be an easy decision. God bless the Supreme Court!”

Trump thanked SCOTUS 

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Following the decision to hear the immunity claims, Trump wrote a lengthy note on Truth Social, “Legal Scholars are extremely thankful for the Supreme Court’s Decision today to take up Presidential Immunity. Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America.”

Trump had more to say

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The former president continued, “Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office. This could actually lead to the extortion and blackmail of a President.” 

No fear of retribution

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Another post echoed these sentiments, “Legal Experts and Scholars have stated that the President must have Full Presidential Immunity. A President must be free to make proper decisions. His mind must be clear, and he must not be guided by the fear of retribution!” 

Trump’s charges in D.C.

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The federal indictment contains only four counts, but many argue this is the most complex of all Trump-related cases. Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. 

The indictment covers events from November to January 

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The federal indictment brought on by Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team covers the period from November 3 and the alleged plot to overturn the 2020 election to January 6 riots. It deals with alleged pressure on Trump’s VP, Mike Pence, and numerous conversations with lawyers and government officials, and it identifies six co-conspirators, four attorneys, a political consultant, and “a Justice Department official who worked on civil matters.”

Should Justice Thomas recuse himself? 

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The conservative Justice’s wife, Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, led the “Stop the Steal” and attended the January 6 rally, though she did not go to the Capitol. James Sample, a professor and judicial ethics expert at Hofstra University Law School, told ABC News, “The question isn’t, should Ginni Thomas be allowed or not allowed to engage in political advocacy. The question here is, should Clarence Thomas, when Ginni Thomas engages in that political advocacy, be allowed to rule on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of that advocacy.”

New ethics code

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In 2023, all nine SCOTUS justices signed a new ethics code. In part, it said, “A Justice should not allow family, social, political, financial, or other relationships to influence official conduct or judgment.” 

The majority of voters spoke up 

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Most Americans, or 52% according to a Quinnipiac University poll, believe Justice Thomas should sit out cases involving the 2020 election. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin told ABC, “I’m afraid Justice Thomas, through his family, has crossed that line, and he should recuse himself so there’s no question or bias in his decision.” 

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