Former US President Donald Trump, a notable figure still on many Republican voters’ radar for the 2024 Presidential nomination, is set to launch an appeal that may macerate the threat of spending much of next year embroiled in judicial proceedings. At stake are allegations of attempting to reverse the results of the 2020 general election – a most serious accusation as it touches on the fabric of our democracy itself.
In launching this appeal, it has been speculated by those versed in the field of law that Trump’s potential triumph in the courtroom isn’t necessarily hinged on prevailing via the strengths of his justifications.
Rather, triumph could come from the ability to adroitly navigate the labyrinthine American judicial system – ultimately forestalling legal processes, thereby preserving his freedom to go head-to-head in the political sphere against President Joe Biden.
Thursday was a day of intense activity for Trump’s legal team as they communicated their intent to appeal a decision by the federal judge tasked with presiding over the forthcoming trial in Washington D.C. At the heart of their appeal is the rejection of Trump’s assertion of immunity from prosecution concerning his official activities during his term as president.
This appeal could be decidedly pivotal; it may well represent Trump’s final play prior to the commencement of his trial, currently slated to start in March. Advocates for Trump have filed motions to place a temporary dam on all judicial activities under the purview of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, the presiding judge in the Washington case.
In the filing, the lawyers argue fervidly that the appeal put forth serves to halt the case in its entire trajectory. Meanwhile, the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith has previously alleged Trump to be tactically employing strategies to ‘delay and disrupt’ the progression of the trial. Notably, they have expressed intent in court filings to make a case in favor of an expedited review of the issue.
Charges laid against Trump in August alleged that he had intentionally committed fraud, doing so against the United States, and additionally, obstructing Congress through a variety of tactics aimed at stalling the formal handover of power to Biden after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. Trump has fervently denied such charges.
Trump’s legal counsel made a bid to dismiss the case entirely on the grounds that the act of subjecting ex-presidents to criminal prosecution for conduct correlated with their official duties can potentially hamstring the power of the presidency. However, Judge Chutkan firmly declined this contention, stating that it effectively equates to offering ex-presidents a perpetual waiver for serving jail time.
The extent of any delays that Trump’s appeal could instigate remains uncertain. Some legal analysts posit that the D.C. Circuit court could potentially blaze through the case, potentially arriving at a conclusion within one to two months, allowing the structure of the existing timeline to remain largely undisturbed. On the contrary, a decision by the Supreme Court to take up the case coupled with a leisurely verdict from the appeals court could push not only a March trial off the cards but also cast the case into a state of postponement for quite some time.
Certainly a point worthy of note is that three sitting justices of the Supreme Court were appointed during Trump’s term in the office. Consequently, they have contributed significantly to the 6-3 conservative majority that currently characterizes the Court.
The judicial system’s approach over the coming months would likely decide if Trump may have to face any trial before the forthcoming election, despite concurrently engaging in defenses for four separate criminal prosecutions. The charges centering around the federal election seem to be proceeding quickest, and Judge Chutkan has consistently rejected Trump’s petitions to delay.
It’s worth noting that were Trump to assume power once more, he could theoretically pardon himself in two of the federal cases, or alternately appoint figures within the Justice Department who could effectively quash them. The remaining state cases too could potentially be deferred if he is in power.
In the case involving accusations that Trump unlawfully held onto classified documents after his departure from the Oval Office, Judge Aileen Cannon, who oversees the proceedings, recently postponed several pretrial deadlines. Many legal observers interpret this as a premonition that the trial scheduled for May 2024 in Florida could be delayed.
Simultaneously, the judge presiding over a state prosecution case in Georgia involving Trump and an additional 14 defendants, expressed reticence with regard to the prosecutors’ request for an August trial. Any such delay could impact Trump’s campaign activities considerably, potentially tying him up in legal proceedings right up to Election Day.
The New York case, which accuses Trump of falsifying records to consequentially pay hush money to an adult film actress before the 2016 election, seems to be receiving some degree of flexibility from both the judge and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Both have shown openness to altering the originally intended March 2024 trial timeline due to Trump’s myriad other legal challenges.
In the face of all these charges, Trump has stuck to his guns, bristling at all charges and categorically denying his culpability. In his own words, he has dubbed the accusations against him as part of a grand ‘witch hunt’ by prosecuting authorities.