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Supreme Court’s Deadline Looms: Special Counsel Jack Smith Given One Week to Respond to Trump Team’s Motion for Delay

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John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, directed Special Counsel Jack Smith on Tuesday to respond to Donald Trump’s lawyers’ request for a delay in his trial for 2020 electoral interference within one week.

Trump’s lawyers filed an emergency appeal at the Supreme Court on Monday, contesting a DC Court of Appeals decision that determined the former president as well as the GOP’s frontrunner for 2024 was not immune from prosecution. The request is temporary relief to stop or keep the mandate of the appeals court from taking effect.

The Trump legal team could have more time if granted to appeal to the Supreme Court about the merits of whether a former President deserves immunity from criminal prosecutions for actions taken while in office. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered Smith to respond to Trump’s requests no later than 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, 2024. However, a response could be filed sooner.

You have several options on how to proceed.

In response to the Supreme Court order, the Justice Department could ask for an expedited review of Trump’s emergency appeal. The Supreme Court could issue an order granting the state until Trump files a merits appeal.

The court could also grant Trump the stay, and accept to hear the case without waiting for Trump’s appeal. If that were to happen, the court would likely expedite matters, with oral arguments, and a decision coming within weeks or even months.

If the court denies Trump’s stay request, the case will be sent back to Chutkan who will then start the pre-trial and set a trial date.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the upcoming election. Former President Trump would like to postpone this until after the elections. If Trump wins the election (which seems increasingly likely based on current polling), he may take a step that no president has ever taken before: a self-pardon.

The legal opinions are at best mixed on the topic of a self-pardon from a president. In that the Constitution does not allow a president to pardon himself in case of an impeachment, it appears as though the Constitution limits the President. The Constitution’s Article II, Section 2 Clause 1, states:

He shall be able to pardon and reprieve those who have committed crimes against the United States except in cases of impeachment.

This would seem to allow for a self-pardon. In a case from 1866, Ex parte Garland 71 U.S. 333, the president appears to have a nearly unlimited pardoning power. This decision notes that the Legislative Branch is not involved in the pardoning process, and has no authority to regulate the process. This decision is a part of:

9. Except in cases of impeachment, the Constitution confers the power of pardon to the President. The power can be used for any crime that is recognized by law and can be exercised anytime after the commission of an offense, whether before or during legal proceedings or even after a conviction and judgment. This power is not under legislative control.

This case is ongoing. As events warrant, we will continue to provide you with more information.

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