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Supreme Court takes center stage in run up to 2024 election


The U.S. Supreme Court is set to play a significant role in the 2024 election as it determines if leading GOP candidate Donald Trump has presidential immunity from criminal charges and if he can stay on the ballot in multiple states.

On Wednesday, the nation’s highest court agreed to hear Trump’s claims that he is protected from prosecution by presidential immunity for his official acts while in office.

The Supreme Court set oral arguments in the case during the week of April 22 – among the last oral arguments of the term – according to a one-page order. The high court could decide in May or June of this term. That means Trump’s federal criminal case in Washington D.C. will be paused until the Supreme Court makes a decision, potentially pushing back the start of that trial until summer or fall, depending on how much time Judge Tanya Chutkan allows for the defense once a ruling comes down.

“The Supreme Court is placing itself on trial with its decision to hear the former president’s total immunity claim,” former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday after the court’s order.

Trump once again called his legal troubles a political attack.

“I did nothing wrong, except build a successful and very liquid company, owning some of the Greatest Properties in the World, and defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Election, an Election which a Republican was not expected to win,” he posted on Truth Social, his social media platform. “I am now the Presumptive Republican Nominee, and likewise, dominating Joe Biden, the Democrat Nominee, in the Polls. This is a Weaponized Attack on Joe Biden’s Political Opponent, unlike anything that has happened in the History of the United States. This is a Political Witch Hunt, and will lead to the destruction of New York State, with businesses and people fleeing by the thousands, while criminals continue to roam the streets. We will continue to appeal until Justice prevails!”

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team of federal prosecutors charged Trump with four federal counts related to contesting the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted, according to the indictment. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

When that case resumes will depend on the Supreme Court’s decision and when it hands down that decision. But even with that case paused, Trump faces criminal charges in two state cases, one over alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and another over election interference in Georgia.

The Georgia case has been sidetracked by questions about the relationship Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had with an attorney she hired to prosecute the state’s election interference case against Donald Trump. Defense attorneys want to have Willis and prosecutor Nathan Wade removed from the case over that personal relationship. Both Willis and Wade have said nothing improper happened and that the relationship started after Willis hired Wade to prosecute the case. Testimony this week from Terrence Bradley, Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney, included Bradley stating that he couldn’t remember if he lied in the matter as he seeks to avoid disbarment and other consequences. Judge Scott McAfee is set to hear from attorneys in the case on Friday before making a decision.

In Georgia, Trump is accused of trying to steal the 2020 election. In August 2023, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former state Republican Party Chair David Shafer, on charges they tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Trump’s legal team has argued that presidents have broad immunity and could only be prosecuted if they had already been impeached and convicted by the Senate. Trump, impeached twice in the House, was never convicted in the Senate.

The march to trial in Trump’s other federal case, in Florida, also has slowed over disagreements about classified documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 felony counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn’t have security clearance, and tried to get around the government’s attempts to get them back.

Even before Wednesday’s decision to take up the immunity case, the Supreme Court was set to decide ballot issues in several states where Trump has been removed from the ballot for allegedly violating the 14th Amendment’s ban on candidates who have “engaged in insurrection” against the United States. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that case earlier this month, but the court has yet to make a decision. That decision could affect Trump’s ability to appear on the ballot in Colorado, Illinois and other states.