Pre-Trial Proceedings Paused as Appeals Unfold: Smith Secures Four-Count Indictment Against Trump for 2020 Election Challenges

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley predicted special counsel Jack Smith may “never see a March trial” Friday after the Supreme Court denied Smith’s plea to hear the case.

The expedited review request by Smith, seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention in the appeal of a district court ruling by Judge Tanya Chutkan that denied Trump’s attorneys’ motion to dismiss the charges, was declined. Commenting on this development, Turley conveyed to “America Reports” co-hosts John Roberts and guest co-host Jacqui Heinrich that the decision’s consequences for Smith are likely unfavorable. Turley explained that Smith was adamant about bypassing the D.C. Circuit because he feared it could jeopardize the scheduled March trial date. This date, set just before Super Tuesday, has essentially halted all proceedings since the court took up the matter. Turley expressed concern that losing the March date could pose a significant challenge, given the crowded calendar, raising doubts about fitting in a trial between that date and the upcoming election.


On December 13, Chutkan halted the pre-trial proceedings while the appeals process was ongoing. In August, Smith obtained a four-count indictment against Trump, pertaining to his endeavors to challenge the outcomes of the 2020 election.

“The problem for Jack Smith is that he knows that whatever the D.C. circuit decides, there’s likely to be an appeal. So, he was willing to give up what many people assumed would be a favorable decision in order to maximize a favorable calendar,” Turley said. “Now, what happens now is not going to work as planned for Jack Smith. Once they hear this case in January, they have to write the opinion, they’ll do that as quickly as possible. But then, Trump’s people can do what’s called an appeal en banc, which is to ask the court as a whole to look at this question before they appeal to the Supreme Court. That will take time. And then if they en banc accept the case, he’ll never see a March trial. So then at that point, the Trump people can apply to the Supreme Court. So there’s a lot of runway now between him and that March date that he’s got to be able to cross, and the odds are he’s not going to be able to stick the landing.”

“Keep in mind, because everything has been frozen in D.C., there’s a lot of work that still has to be done for the trial,” Turley continued. “So as soon as all of this is done, it’s got to go back to the court and they’ve got to decide what they have time for, in terms of that trial. So the odds if you are going to Vegas right now are not on Jack Smith for a March trial.”

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