Supreme Court presidential immunity ruling shakes up the Biden-Trump conversation (2024)

David JacksonUSA TODAY

WASHINGTON - Former President Donald Trump got an important political and legal win. President Joe Biden got a much needed post-debate change of subject.

The Supreme Court's decision on Monday giving Trump limited immunity from prosecution for presidential acts means the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee - already a convicted felon - will not be tried during the campaign on charges that he tried to steal the 2020 election from Biden.

"Now I am free to campaign like anyone else," Trump told Fox News Digital in the immediate aftermath of the landmark 6-3 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Meanwhile, the Biden team - still in damage control over his shaky debate performance last Thursday that has fomented widespread calls for the incumbent Democratic president to get out of the 2024 White House race - reacted to the decision by reviving the basic issue: Trump's role in the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, which followed his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden.

"Trump is already running for president as a convicted felon for the very same reason he sat idly by while the mob violently attacked the Capitol," said a Biden campaign statement. "He thinks he’s above the law and is willing to do anything to gain and hold onto power for himself."

Trump moves forward

Legal issues will continue to dog the Trump campaign, but there won't be as many of them thanks to the Supreme Court.

The former president does face a July 11 sentencing date in the hush money case. A judge could sentence him to prison, although he is appealing the verdict and likely won't face a day behind bars.

Trump has also been staring at a potential criminal trial in Washington, D.C., on federal charges that he conspired to try and steal the 2020 election from Biden. But that now looks very unlikely. Trump can always appeal any ruling from the federal district court judge overseeing his case that found his actions - including pressuring state and federal officials to change electoral votes - do not constitute "official acts." That move would likewise further delay a trial, which as of now doesn't even have a start date listed on the court docket.

If Trump wins the presidential election and takes office, he can order the Justice Department to have his federal case dismissed - a move that no doubt would prompt widespread political pushback from Democrats.

Trump will be tried on federal Jan. 6 charges "only if he loses in November, and even then it’ll take probably two years," said Bradley P. Moss, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security cases.

No more courtrooms for Trump

It stands to reason: No trial, no real damage to Trump's campaign.

"Once he's sentenced in New York, that's the last we'll see of Trump in a courtroom, right?" said Republican strategist Scott Jennings.

Jennings, a CNN commentator, said voters "have already processed January 6 and related issues, and have already taken into account of whether they will do Trump again. So not much, to be honest."

Trump also faces two other possible trials: A Georgia state case that also alleges he conspired to steal the 2020 election, and a Florida federal case involving the mishandling of classified documents.

Pre-trial maneuvering has delayed both of those trials, likely beyond Election Day on Nov. 5.

The Biden campaign: Trump is still responsible for Jan. 6

After a poor debate performance that inspired even some supporters to suggest Biden drop out of the race, the president's campaign sought to use the Supreme Court decision to reframe the debate.

While there won't be a Trump trial before the Election Day, Biden supporters said, the issue remains: the former president fomented an insurrection and still poses a threat to democracy, and voters should hold him accountable.

In its statement, the Biden campaign said Trump "snapped after he lost the 2020 election" and has become more unhinged this time around.

"He’s promising to be a dictator ‘on day one,’ calling for our Constitution to be ‘terminated’ so he can regain power, and promising a 'bloodbath' if he loses," the Biden campaign said.

Is Trump's legal calendar clear?

This isn't the first time this year the Supreme Court has altered the legal/political calendar.

The federal Jan. 6 case was on schedule to start this March, but it got pushed back after the high court decided to review Trump's pre-trial appeal. At that point, prosecutors in New York opted to move forward with the hush money case against Trump.

On May 30, a jury convicted Trump of false reporting of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, all in an effort to keep voters from learning about his encounter with the adult film actress right before the 2016 presidential election.

There is scant evidence that the New York case has had much of an effect on the Biden-Trump race.

Polls say the race race is virtually tied, although both campaigns are anxiously reviewing new data to asses the impact - if any - on Biden's shaky performance at last week's debate.

Supreme Court presidential immunity ruling shakes up the Biden-Trump conversation (2024)
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