WaPo editor freaks out over possibility Trump trials could be delayed until after 2024 election

 February 3, 2024

It has been clear from the beginning, though some will continue to deny it, that the underlying goal of the multiple criminal indictments against former President Donald Trump is to have him stand trial and be found guilty and sentenced to prison before voters cast their ballots in the November election.

Some of Trump's opponents are openly admitting that goal now, including The Washington Post's Associate Editor Ruth Marcus, who just argued in an op-ed that the "Slowpoke federal appeals court puts 2024 election in jeopardy."

The electoral "jeopardy" she feared was the possibility that one or more of Trump's criminal trials might be delayed until after voters have their say in the election in November due to the "unconscionable" slow pace of an appeals court panel.

Trump's federal election interference trial indefinitely delayed

Marcus was referring in her op-ed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that heard arguments over Trump's claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution nearly a month ago but has yet to issue a decision, leaving Trump's federal election interference case in D.C. district court delayed indefinitely until the appeal is resolved.

Indeed, CBS News reported this week that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan removed from the court's calendar the tentatively scheduled March 4 trial start date, a not-unexpected move after she placed all pre-trial proceedings on pause in December pending the outcome of Trump's appeal of her rejection of his immunity claim.

Yet, even when that three-judge panel eventually issues their ruling on Trump's claim, the matter won't be concluded as the former president -- or Special Counsel Jack Smith -- can then further appeal the issue to both the full D.C. Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, which would undoubtedly cause additional delays of weeks or even months regardless of what the final decision ends up being.

A pre-election conviction could sway voters against Trump

"Without strict court supervision and swift action to prevent Trump from running out the clock, his trial could easily collide with the party conventions and the height of the general election campaign," Marcus wrote in her op-ed. "It is not at all far-fetched to imagine it being postponed until after the November election -- Trump’s ultimate goal, so he can win, take office, and then order the case dropped."

"Failing to try Trump before the election would be a terrible disservice to voters. They are entitled to know before casting their ballots whether they are choosing a felon, especially one guilty of election interference," she continued.

In support of that position, Marcus referenced polls that show a Trump conviction and/or prison sentence before the 2024 election could prompt a thin majority of voters in the crucial swing states, some of whom might otherwise support him, to vote against the former president and his bid for a second term in office.

Other trials could also face delays

Interestingly enough, and much to the consternation of former President Trump's avowed opponents at The Post and elsewhere, the D.C. election trial is not the only case in danger of being pushed back until after the 2024 election, as there is the genuine possibility that Trump's other prosecutions at the federal and state levels could be similarly delayed or even dismissed outright.

That includes Special Counsel Smith's effort to imprison Trump in South Florida over his alleged unauthorized retention of classified documents, which is tentatively scheduled to begin trial in May but will almost certainly be delayed due to the complex and time-consuming procedures for handling such classified materials in court.

It is also likely that there will be delays in the Georgia election interference case, given the complexity of the racketeering charges and multiple defendants, which doesn't even have a trial date scheduled yet, not to mention the New York business records falsification case set for trial in late March, widely considered to be the weakest case of the four Trump faces, which could ultimately be tossed and would only result in minimal punishment even if there is a conviction.

Absolute derangement

In her op-ed, Marcus harshly criticized Trump for his delay tactics and even went so far as to compare the former president, who has done little more than make full use of the standard appeals process and procedures, to a "murderer who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan."

"But both the appeals court and the Supreme Court have mechanisms to frustrate this kind of gamesmanship," she concluded. "They can set tighter deadlines and allow pretrial preparation to go forward while they weigh any appeal. Justice has been delayed enough already."

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