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Chief Justice Gives Jack Smith an Ultimatum to Respond to Trump’s Bid to Hold Off Trial

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A collage of Trump and Jack Smith
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Chief Justice John Roberts has given prosecutors one week to respond to Donald Trump’s request to keep his election-subversion trial on hold. In the meantime, he will try to persuade the Supreme Court to dismiss it entirely on presidential immunity.

A brief docket entry from the court Tuesday morning holds details of the ultimatum. It said special counsel Jack Smith has until next Tuesday at 4 p.m. to address the emergency application. Trump’s lawyers filed the application at the high court Monday.

Last week, a three-judge federal appeals court panel in Washington unanimously turned down Trump’s sweeping immunity claim. However, the judges agreed not to return the case to a lower court for trial.

At least not until the Supreme Court acts on Trump’s request for emergency relief. Smith wants the courts to resolve the immunity dispute quickly so that Trump’s trial can begin later this year. The trial was initially set for March 4. 

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In December, the special counsel demanded that the Supreme Court take up the immunity issue even before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed it. This would have led to an expedited conclusion. However, the justices denied the attempt.

“This Court’s immediate review of that question is the only way to achieve its timely and definitive resolution,” Smith wrote in the December filing. “The Nation has a compelling interest in a decision on [Trump’s] claim of immunity from these charges — and if they are to be tried, a resolution by conviction or acquittal, without undue delay.”

Smith will no doubt try to oppose Trump’s request to keep the proceedings in the trial court on hold while Trump pursues further relief from both the Supreme Court and the full, 11-judge bench of the D.C. Circuit. 

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He is hoping those courts rule in his favor. This would be because former presidents are immune from prosecution on conduct arguably related to the presidency. Unless, of course, Congress has seen it fit to impeach and convict them.

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Smith can respond to Trump’s latest high court filing before next Tuesday. However, after the deadline the chief justice gave expires, he may not be able to do so anymore.

As the elections continue to inch closer, voters are starting to pay more attention to prospective candidates. Naturally, all eyes are on Trump and Biden. They both have some demerits but are insistent on running.

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Recently, a special report deemed Biden mentally unfit, addressing him as an elderly man with problems with his memory. The report has brought the problem to the fore as voters now have to confront the reality. Biden’s falling mental acuity has triggered discussions of the possibility of Kamala Harris, his Vice President, taking his place in the race.

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This was never discussed publicly in the past, but in the face of all that is happening, it has become a more public discussion. Harris stands staunchly in support of Biden; however, she has said she is ready to step up should the need arise.

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