Supreme Court charade helps Trump push weak immunity claim in New York

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Supreme Court charade helps Trump push weak immunity claim in New York

The Supreme Court’s choice to review Donald Trump’s immunity claim and set it for argument in late April has obvious implications for his federal election interference case. But the former president has also recently raised the issue in his Florida and New York prosecutions. While his bids should fail in those other cases too, the fact that the issue is still unresolved — and might not be for another couple months, at least — raises the prospect of unnecessary delays in those other cases. 

To understand the high court’s role, look at the recent timeline. On Feb. 28, the justices granted review of Trump’s immunity appeal in the Washington case. The court didn’t have to do that. It could have summarily affirmed the D.C. Circuit ruling against Trump. But the court not only took up the case but set the hearing for the very last argument day, April 25, about two months from the date review was granted. It could easily take another two months to decide the case after that. Of course, that would put the possibility of a D.C. trial before the presidential election in grave doubt.

Meanwhile, Trump has raised immunity claims that are even more ridiculous than the one in the D.C. case — a high bar since, as you may remember, a federal appeals judge pointed out that siding with Trump could condone presidents ordering the murder of their rivals. In the classified documents case, the former president’s lawyers claimed immunity from charges for conduct that allegedly took place after Trump left office. And now in New York, just weeks ahead of jury selection set for March 25, his lawyers have cited the pending Supreme Court ruling as reason to delay the criminal trial

To be clear, these are weak arguments that should be rejected out of hand. Had the Supreme Court resolved the issue, or at least made an effort to do so more quickly, Trump would be harder pressed to raise them.

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Jordan Rubin

Jordan Rubin is the Deadline: Legal Blog writer. He was a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and is the author of “Bizarro,” a book about the secret war on synthetic drugs. Before he joined MSNBC, he was a legal reporter for Bloomberg Law.

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