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Trump's trials: Recent court delays could help the former president

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — As he campaigns for a return to the White House, former President Donald Trump faces criminal prosecution in four separate trials. He's also fought two civil trials that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.

Here's what's going on with the cases as primary elections ramp up across the nation, and what to expect in the weeks ahead:

Supreme Court reviewing presidential immunity

By agreeing to take up a question of presidential immunity this week, the Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to special counsel Jack Smith's plans to prosecute Trump this spring for allegedly attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Originally scheduled to begin Monday, the trial potentially will be delayed until after the 2024 presidential election.

Judge Tanya Chutkan, the trial judge, rejected Trump's claim that he was immune from criminal charges brought because of "official acts" taken while in office. She said the Constitution does not give former presidents absolute immunity for their past crimes.

 

In December, Smith urged the Supreme Court to fast track consideration of that question so it could be resolved by March. The justices refused and sent the question to the D.C Circuit, which took until early February to rule against Trump. He quickly appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday announced it will hear arguments on the question during the week of April 22. The high court is likely to to wait until the end of June to hand down a written ruling.

The trial is on hold until the question of presidential immunity is resolved and Trump's attorneys have indicated that they will need several weeks to prepare once the trial is allowed to move forward. They could even raise new objections that could further delay the trial.

On top of the procedural hurdles, the Justice Department has a policy to avoid prosecutions that could affect pending elections, and that could stand in the way of a fall trial featuring the expected Republican presidential nominee.

All of that adds up to the possibility that even if Trump loses in court he may have already won at the ballot.

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