Welcome back, Deadline: Legal Newsletter readers, and Happy New Year. It’s already a busy one on the Trump legal front, with a number of his cases on the Supreme Court’s docket or headed that way.
The justices finally agreed to take up Donald Trump’s eligibility for office on Friday, setting oral arguments for Feb. 8. With challenges to the former president’s qualification under the 14th Amendment pending across the country, the Supreme Court can settle the issue nationwide in this Colorado case. As I told Alicia Menendez on “Deadline: White House” this week, we need a nationwide resolution for this issue ahead of the November election. Now it looks like we’ll get one.
In Trump’s criminal immunity appeal, the D.C. Circuit is set to hear argument Tuesday. How quickly the court rules — likely against Trump — will set the stage for the timing of an eventual Supreme Court appeal by whichever side loses. Ahead of the hearing, special counsel Jack Smith warned that granting Trump immunity from prosecution would mean presidents could sell nuclear secrets to foreign adversaries and order the murder of their critics, among other nightmare scenarios.
And while the D.C. prosecution is paused at the trial level pending the immunity appeal, Trump complained in a motion this week to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan that Smith and his team are still working on the case. Instead of ignoring Smith’s legal filings and discovery productions — as the defendant is fully within his rights to do while the case is on hold — the former president’s legal team told Chutkan that she should hold Smith and his prosecutors in contempt. But as I explained in this post and as MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann told Lawrence O’Donnell on “The Last Word,” it’s not a winning argument from the Trump team.
Another Trump hearing is coming Thursday in his New York civil fraud case, where Judge Arthur Engoron is set to preside over closing arguments. A Friday filing from New York Attorney General Letitia James reminds us that the stakes are existential for Trump and his business empire — she’s pushing for, among other things, a $370 million penalty and to permanently bar him from the real estate industry in the state.
In the Georgia election prosecution, Trump co-defendant Mark Meadows is still fighting to move his state charges to federal court. Recall that a three-judge federal appeals panel smacked down his removal attempt last month. But now he wants the full 11th Circuit to weigh in. Meadows’ request for en banc review, as such a full circuit petition is called, is notable not because it stands a good chance at succeeding, but because it shows that the former Trump White House chief of staff has brought on a top Supreme Court litigator, Paul Clement, suggesting that Meadows wants to take his removal fight all the way to the Supreme Court if the full circuit rebuffs him.
The justices retake the bench in Washington on Monday for a two-week argument session that kicks off with disputes over immigration and the no-fly list, and ends Jan. 17 with the fate of the Chevron doctrine that’s been a target of business interests hoping to avoid regulation. On top of the justices’ usual caseload — to which they added an important abortion case on Friday — this week’s developments show the Trump-related high court docket taking shape in the new year.
Jordan Rubin is the Deadline: Legal Blog writer. He was a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and is the author of “Bizarro,” a book about the secret war on synthetic drugs. Before he joined MSNBC, he was a legal reporter for Bloomberg Law.
Source : MSNBC