The arguments about the 14th amendment came just days before the Supreme Court was likely to face another crucial question concerning Trump: whether or not to review his claims to be immune from prosecution on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington swatted down those claims, asserting that “citizen Trump,” as the judges called him, was subject to federal criminal law like any other American. As part of its decision, the panel put in place a measure designed to restrict Trump’s ability to prolong his appeal of the immunity issue, a move that he has used repeatedly in an effort to push his election interference trial until after this fall’s election.
Under the provision, the panel gave Trump until Monday to ask the Supreme Court to extend a pause on the underlying case that has been in place since December. If he and his lawyers fail to do that — or if they take an extra step and seek an intermediate review by the full appeals court — the case will be sent back to the trial judge, Tanya Chutkan.
Judge Chutkan, who has shown every sign of wanting to move the case to trial as fast as possible, would then have the power to restart all of the hearings and filing deadlines that have been on hold for weeks.
The move by the panel was clearly designed to encourage Trump to take his immunity appeal directly to the Supreme Court, setting up a momentous decision by the justices. Depending on whether they decide to hear the case and how quickly they resolve it, Trump could go to trial on the election subversion charges as early as this spring or not until next year — after the election is decided.