Trump plays stall ball at the Supreme Court
Trump after he learned from the DC Appeals Court that he has no permanent immunity from prosecution for crimes. Now he is delaying things with superfluous appeals to the Supreme Court to send back the case to the Appeals Court, this time to the full court rather than a panel from the court. The Supreme Court has given Special Counsel Smith a week to respond to the latest delay tactics. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON—Donald Trump is playing stall ball again, this time at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump isn’t directly challenging a three-judge appellate court panel ruling that he’s a regular citizen, not president anymore, and thus can’t use presidential immunity forever to deny a federal criminal trial on four charges covering the Trumpites’ Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection, invasion and attempted coup d’etat. Immunity would literally sabotage the trial.

Instead, Trump wants the justices to issue an emergency order to the full 11-judge U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to hear and rule on his immunity claim. And then, if he loses, he’ll take the case to the Supreme Court. More delays.

Adding to the delay, the Supreme Court today ordered Special Counsel Jack Smith to respond to the Trump request by next Tuesday before they make any decision on the latest Trump delay tactic.

The four D.C. federal charges against Trump include defrauding the government and, most importantly, depriving citizens of their rights to vote and to have their votes counted honestly.

Serial sexual wrongdoer and would-be dictator Trump did that, the indictment says, by his orders for the insurrection which prevented the counting of the electoral votes that January day, and by his slates of fake electors. Both were designed to beat Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The practical impact of Trump’s move: Until the High Court decides one way or another, on Trump’s “emergency” request, Trump’s trial before U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan is delayed again.

In football terms, it’s called running out the clock.

Trump’s moves had already pushed the trial past Judge Chutkan’s original starting date of March 4, the day before Super Tuesday’s big slate of presidential primaries. That still leaves him facing 87 other counts, mostly dealing with the insurrection, in other trials, in New York, Georgia, and Florida.

But delay is just what Trump wants. It’s a common tactic he’s used in his long and litigious business career…delay, delay, delay until your opponent is exhausted, the money is gone, witnesses’ memories are failing, or until you can get it thrown out completely.

That’s how Trump avoided paying health and pension benefits to 1,000 unionized workers, and their local, Unite Here Local 54, for years after he had them erect the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

By the time the two sides settled—for a fine against the casino—Trump had taken it into bankruptcy and lost it there. The new owner, superrich investor Carl Icahn, paid the fine. He had threatened to close the casino if he had to pay the full benefits.

There’s one other big reason Trump wants to stall Chutkan’s trial and its jury: The November election.

If Trump wins this fall and takes office on Jan. 20, 2025, his handpicked toadies at the Justice Department could walk into Judge Chutkan’s court and drop the whole case. With Trump’s attorneys agreeing, the judge would be virtually powerless against the demand.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.