“I still think it’s possible” Judge Aileen Cannon’s Delay of Trump Trial Could Benefit Special Counsel Jack Smith

 “I still think it’s possible” Judge Aileen Cannon’s Delay of Trump Trial Could Benefit Special Counsel Jack Smith


Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to indefinitely delay the trial of former President Donald Trump over classified documents could have an unintended benefit for special counsel Jack Smith, according to legal experts. Neil Katyal, the former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, believes that Cannon’s postponement allows Smith’s team to fully concentrate on Trump’s federal election interference case. Katyal discussed this perspective in a recent interview with MSNBC.

The federal case involving Trump’s interference in the 2020 election has seen delays for months as the Supreme Court initially remanded Trump’s presidential immunity claim to a lower court. That court unanimously rejected his claim, prompting Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has now scheduled arguments for the appeal on the last possible day.

“Judge Cannon’s decision today has now cleared the docket for Trump,” Katyal said. When host Alex Wagner asked if Katyal thought it possible Smith’s election interference case will head to court before Election Day, he said yes. “I still think it’s possible,” Katyal said. “And Judge Cannon’s decision today makes it more possible.”

On April 25, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding Trump’s absolute immunity claim while he simultaneously faced charges in a Manhattan criminal court for falsifying business records to subvert the 2016 presidential election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Following Judge Cannon’s ruling and the Georgia appeals court’s decision to reconsider Trump’s challenge to the Fulton County prosecutor charging him with election racketeering, experts believe that two of Trump’s four criminal cases will not reach trial before Election Day on November 5. The cases unlikely to proceed to trial include the classified documents case and the Georgia racketeering case. This leaves Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case, already underway, and Smith’s federal election interference case in Washington, D.C.

Attorney Bradley P. Moss found a silver lining in Judge Cannon’s decision not to set a new trial date. “She isn’t blocking the D.C. or Georgia election cases from resuming in the late summer/early fall,” Moss wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “pending SCOTUS ruling on immunity.”

It remains uncertain when the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on Trump’s immunity appeal. However, when the Associated Press reported on the arguments presented in April, they noted that the court is expected to release the last of its opinions by late June, just four months before the election.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the federal election interference case in Washington, D.C., has estimated she will need approximately three months to address pre-trial issues. This timeline indicates that Smith’s election interference case could progress relatively swiftly after the Supreme Court rules on the immunity question.

In the Manhattan case, Trump faces charges of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. While Trump has pleaded not guilty, the trial is already underway and could serve as a precursor to the federal election interference case if it proceeds to trial before the election.

With Judge Cannon’s delay, special counsel Jack Smith and his team can focus their full attention on the election interference case, potentially gaining a strategic advantage in the lead-up to the 2024 election. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump’s presidential immunity claim will be a pivotal moment, determining how quickly the D.C. and Georgia election cases can proceed.

Ultimately, Cannon’s decision may have far-reaching implications for Trump’s legal battles and the 2024 presidential election. While her postponement of the classified documents trial is seen as a setback for some, it also presents opportunities for Smith and other prosecutors to prioritize their cases and bring them to trial before the crucial November election deadline.

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