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It's been a week of mostly positive legal news for former President Trump


President Trump is back in court today in New York City. Adult film star Stormy Daniels is back on the stand. She's been testifying about payments she received from Trump's former lawyer, which prosecutors say they will link to falsified business records. That's the heart of the case. But if you back out of that courtroom with the defendant there and the sketch artists and the reporters, if you back away from that courtroom, you see a bigger picture in which Trump's four indictments, three criminal cases are stalled. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is following that. Carrie, good morning.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Lots of people are focused on whether the former president would face verdicts before November's election, since he's running, of course, for the presidency. Any chance that Trump will face another trial before November?

JOHNSON: The odds are really slim. Just yesterday in Georgia, we learned an appeals court there will take up a question in a case related to Trump's alleged election interference, the question of whether the prosecutor who admitted to a relationship with another prosecutor on the case should actually be disqualified. That means the August start date that the district attorney, Fani Willis, had hoped for is now impossible. And there are big questions about whether there will be any Trump trial in Georgia this year.

Let's move down to Florida. Judge Aileen Cannon has indefinitely postponed the case about classified documents Trump allegedly kept at Mar-a-Lago after his presidency. That was tentatively scheduled for May 20. That date has been wiped off the calendar. And then, Steve, in the third case in Washington, D.C., this one also about Trump's actions around the election and the January 6 riot at the Capitol. That's on hold because the Supreme Court is deciding whether a former president should have absolute immunity from prosecution.


JOHNSON: All that's to say, these trials are facing one delay after another. And that matters because if Donald Trump is elected to the White House in November, he could push the DOJ to drop at least the two federal cases against him.

INSKEEP: What do the delays say about the merits of the cases?

JOHNSON: Well, Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of the 88 charges against him in all of these places. And he says these are baseless allegations. But his legal team has been pursuing delay with great success so far in at least three of these jurisdictions. They're filing lots of motions related to the merits of these cases. But even if he doesn't win, the filing of those papers means that he gets some delay in the short term. Let's take Florida - Judge Cannon there, who was appointed by Trump when he was the president, she still hasn't ruled on a number of key motions that were fully aired months ago, back in February or March. So there's a huge backlog there of her own making.

And then you have this presidential immunity question where Special Counsel Jack Smith has argued Trump should get no immunity. That's going to be up to the Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments in late April. We're waiting for them to hand down a decision this summer.

INSKEEP: And the court declined a request to move quickly in that case. Isn't immunity central to all these cases?

JOHNSON: It is in some ways. And no legal expert I've interviewed thinks the Supreme Court will grant Donald Trump blanket immunity from prosecution. But it's possible the way the justices write their decision could get rid of part of the D.C. case against Trump and possibly require changes in some of the other cases, too. That line between presidential acts and personal acts that a president does in the White House is something the Supreme Court really seem to be struggling with, and it's not clear how they are going to resolve it or how quickly.

INSKEEP: OK. So three of the four cases are stalled. One is going forward. What's the timing there?

JOHNSON: Prosecutors told the judge in New York they have about two more weeks of testimony. The judge there has imposed a partial gag order on Trump, and he's already found Trump in contempt for several statements Trump made bashing witnesses and the jury. The judge says if Trump keeps this up, he could wind up incarcerated.

INSKEEP: Carrie, thanks for your insights, really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: My pleasure.

INSKEEP: NPR's Carrie Johnson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.
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