Legal experts say Trump immunity ruling likely pushes election interference trial beyond Election Day


Legal experts say it is unlikely that former President Trump will face trial in his Washington election interference case before election day, given the Supreme Court’s new ruling on the issue.

The Court on Monday ruled that Trump and all former presidents enjoy presumptive immunity for “official acts” made while in office. The ruling sends Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment back to lower courts, where they will battle over whether Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results were “official acts.”

Jonathan Turley, a law professor and Fox News contributor, says the Supreme Court gave clear instructions to lower courts on how to separate official and private actions.

“The opinion was not the vague remand that some expected. It states clearly that the motivations of a president are not matters for litigation. It also states that presidents are expected to speak to the public on matters of great importance and specifically cited Trump’s Jan. 6th speech. It also said that conversations with executive branch officials like former Vice President Pence are part of official functions, Turley told Fox News Digital.

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Legal experts say it is unlikely that former President Trump will face trial in his Washington elections interference case before election day giving the Supreme Court’s new ruling on the issue. (Felipe Ramales for Fox News Digital)

“The court’s descriptions of official functions and the penumbra around those functions will heavily impact these cases. Special Counsel Jack Smith has benefited from a highly favorable trial court judge. However, Judge Chutkan is no longer writing on a blank slate. The Court followed the right hook in the Fischer case with an absolute haymaker in the Trump case,” he added.

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Still, debate over Trump’s actions following the 2020 election will take time. Attorney and legal commentator John Shu says a trial before Election Day is almost certainly off the table.

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Debate over Trump’s actions following the 2020 election will take time. Attorney and legal commentator John Shu says a trial before election day is almost certainly off the table. (Getty Images)

“Logistically, I don’t see how Jack Smith and the DOJ can start either the D.C. or Florida trials against former president Trump before November, let alone finish them by then,” he told Fox, referencing the D.C. election interference case and Florida classified documents case. “Jack Smith has a well-earned reputation of being hyper-aggressive, however, and so it is possible that he and the DOJ now feel pressure to push [Southern District of Florida] Judge Cannon even harder, which will likely backfire on them.”

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Turley agreed that the Court’s ruling will likely push Trump’s trial past November, saying Smith may be forced to retrace his steps and create another superseding indictment.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that presidents enjoy presumptive immunity for their official acts taken while in office. (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

“It is unlikely that a trial can occur before the election. There was a halt on pre-trial motions during the appeal. Now the court must also address the Fischer and Trump rulings,” he said. “[D.C. District] Judge Chutkan undermined the case by yielding to Smith and pursuing a rushed calendar. The court found little record to answer these questions. To rush this again would invite a similar result.”

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Trump and his allies in Congress cheered the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision on Monday.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the No. 3 House GOP leader, said, “The Democrats have proven they will do everything in their power … to destroy [Trump]. Today’s Supreme Court decision is a positive step in the right direction of ending their senseless lawfare.”

Fox News’ Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report



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