The Supreme Court’s decision not to immediately consider whether Trump is immune from prosecution marked an extraordinary 48 hours in politics.
The ongoing legal developments are shaping Donald Trump’s campaign narrative—a gradual stream of grievance politics where he portrays himself as a victim of the establishment, as noted by Charlie Neibergal.
While the Supreme Court’s decision may provide a short-term legal victory regarding Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election, its implications for the 2024 presidential contest could be profound.
The decision highlighted the potential significance of the courts in the campaign, surpassing debates and public events. The Justices, faced with a packed docket of Trump-related cases, appear poised to influence the campaign’s trajectory as much as the candidates themselves.
Former Colorado Republican Party chair Dick Wadhams commented, “The campaign will be conducted in a courtroom, essentially. And that’s worked out well for [Trump] for the past year. They probably are banking on that to continue.”
This week, both Trump and the Colorado Republican Party announced their intention to appeal to the Supreme Court following the state high court’s decision disqualifying Trump from the ballot for inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6.
In Michigan, a revealing report exposed Trump and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel’s offer to provide legal defense to GOP canvassers in exchange for not certifying the state’s 2020 presidential vote. This could support special prosecutor Jack Smith’s case, demonstrating Trump’s attempts to overturn results without evidence of widespread fraud.
The Supreme Court’s involvement in Trump-related matters may intensify, including the Colorado case, the immunity question, and a ruling on a federal obstruction law that could impact charges against Trump. Trump‘s challenge of a gag order in his Washington case is likely to reach the Supreme Court next year. Trump has also hinted at bringing another immunity case to the Supreme Court to stall a civil lawsuit in New York.
The Michigan case serves as a reminder of potential legal challenges awaiting Trump as investigations into his allies progress in several states.
The heightened legal battles coincide with Trump’s increased campaign activity ahead of early nominating contests. While legal cases could undermine him in a general election, they do not seem to be damaging his primary bid.
Ron DeSantis, once Trump’s chief rival, acknowledged that Trump’s legal challenges have distorted the primary landscape.
Amid logistical challenges, ongoing legal developments are shaping Trump’s campaign narrative—a continuous expression of grievance politics, positioning him as a victim of the establishment, including the justice system, despite his previous control over its levers during his presidency.
Jason Roe, former executive director of the state Republican Party in Michigan, noted, “It overshadows everything, but I still think it’s rocket fuel for Trump. … I think it feeds right into his whole narrative that everybody’s out to get him.”
In Colorado, where the Trump eligibility case unfolded, Wadhams raised concerns about the tolerance level of Republicans for the chaos, speculating on a potential breaking point during the general election campaign.