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Donald Trump is determined to avoid accountability before the general election, and, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court is helping him.

Trump has no legal ground whatsoever to delay a ruling in his plea for presidential immunity. The reason Trump has nevertheless sought to slow down the immunity appeals process is obvious: to postpone the trial date, hopefully pushing it into a time when, as president, he would control the Department of Justice and thus could squash the prosecution altogether. The Supreme Court has shamed itself by being a party to this, when the sole issue before the Court is presidential immunity. By contrast, Special Counsel Jack Smith has both law and policy on his side in seeking a prompt determination on immunity and a speedy trial soon thereafter. Yet the Court has ignored all that.

David A. Graham: The cases against Trumpa guide

The Supreme Courts lollygagging is reflected in its scheduling the immunity case for a leisurely April 25 hearing. Its too late to do anything about that now, but the Court has an opportunity to correct course following oral argument. The justices should press Trumps counsel on what possible legitimate reason he has to oppose a speedy resolution of the appeal. And then they should rule with dispatch because there is still time, albeit barely, to vindicate the publics right to a speedy trial.

Lets recap how we arrived at the present moment. After Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled against Trumps claim of presidential immunity on December 1 and Trump appealed that ruling to the D.C. Circuit, Smith asked the Supreme Court to hear the appeal immediately, leapfrogging the delay of the circuit-level argument and decision. Trump opposed that, and the Supreme Court declined Smiths invitation. The circuit court expedited its appeal and on February 6 issued its decision, again rejecting Trumps immunity argument in toto. Trump then sought a stay in the Supreme Court, and advocated various measures to slow the Courts hearing of the case. The Supreme Court then deliberated for a couple of weeks before accepting the case for review, and not scheduling the argument until two months lateron the very last day of oral arguments for this session.

Were he not seeking to avoid any trial in advance of the general election so he could maximize the chances of becoming the next president of the United States, Trump would have an interest in a speedy resolution of the immunity question, in contrast to the foot-dragging positions he has advocated throughout the litigation of this issue. Anyone with a legitimate claim of immunity has every interest in not suffering a single day more under the opprobrium of multiple criminal charges, not to mention being under pretrial bail conditions and a gag order. (Trumps lawyers have argued against his existing gag order, saying it sweeps so broadly as to undermine their clients ability to campaign for the presidency.)

The law itself recognizes the need for speed on this issue. With questions of immunity, courts permit an appeal in advance of a trial and forgo the usual rule that appeals are permitted only after a verdict is reached. The hope, in allowing for this, is to relieve someone from the opprobrium and burden of a trial, if the defendant is indeed immune. For the Court to set such a prolonged scheduleantithetical to the appropriate time frame for the only issue actually before the justicesspeaks volumes about the role the Court has chosen to play in advancing the interests of the former president over the rule of law.

The government has its own interests in seeking a prompt resolution of the immunity issue and a speedy criminal trial (and it has the same interest as a defendant in not subjecting someone to criminal charges who is immune from prosecution). But before delving into the governments interests, lets first dispense with a red herring: Special Counsel Smith is not disputing that Trump should be accorded sufficient time to prepare for trial. An inviolable constitutional safeguard is that all criminal defendants must be able to exercise their procedural rights to prepare. Judge Chutkan already weighed the parties competing claims. Her decision on a trial date fell well within the mark for similar cases, and that ruling is not on appeal (despite the Supreme Courts behaving as if it were).

The district judges selected timeline (seven months from the August 1 indictment), in a case whose facts and substantial evidence were already available to the defendant, was longer than deadlines set all around the country. By way of comparison, next door in the more conservative Virginia district, defendants routinely go to trial at great speed, without conservative commentators going to the barricades over alleged violations of the rights of the accused. That Trump is a rich, white, and politically powerful man does not mean he should be accorded more (or fewer) rights than others. And Chutkan has said that when the case returns to her, she will give Trump more time to prepare.

David A. Graham: Judge Chutkans impossible choice

With Trumps rights intact, then, Smith has several legitimate grounds for the immunity appeal to be decided expeditiously and a trial to start as promptly as possible. DOJ internal policy prohibits taking action in a case for the purpose of choosing sides in or affecting the outcome of an election. That is unquestionable and not in dispute here. Rather, the point is that well-established neutral criminal-justice principles support a speedy trial. This trials outcome, of course, is not known in advance, and it may lead some voters to think better or worse of the defendant and the current presidential administration depending on the evidence and the outcome.

Moreover, the public has a profound interest in a fair and speedy trial. As Justice Samuel Alito wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court, the Speedy Trial Act was designed not just to benefit defendants but also to serve the public interest. The refrain that justice too long delayed is justice denied has unmistakable resonance in this criminal context. The special counsels briefs in the D.C. case are replete with references to this well-settled case law. This means that even when the accused is seeking to delay his day in court, that does not alter the prosecutors obligation to see to it that the case is brought on for trial, as the Supreme Court has well articulated. Many defendants seek to avoid the day of reckoninghence Edward Bennett Williamss famous quip that for the defense, an adjournment is equivalent to an acquittal. The law provides that the public, the prosecution, and most emphatically the courts need not oblige that stratagem.

Whats more, when a defendant seeks to postpone a trial until a point at which he can no longer be prosecuted, the Justice Department may request the trial be held before that deadline. The DOJs interest in deterrence and accountability warrants this action. If Trump should win the election, he will become immune as president from criminal trial for at least four years (and perhaps forever by seeking dismissal of the federal case with prejudice or testing the efficacy of granting himself a pardon). The Justice Department can accordingly uphold the public interest in deterrence and accountability by seeking the prompt conviction of the leader of an insurrection. This DOJ need not advance the goals of a future administration led by that very oathbreaking insurrectionist.

Another objective of criminal punishment is specific deterrence, ensuring the defendant herself does not commit offenses in the future. Given the grand jurys determination that Trump committed felonies to try to interfere with the 2020 election, there are strong law-enforcement reasons to obtain a conviction to specifically deter Trump. Indeed, in proposing a trial date to Judge Chutkan, Smith quoted Justice Alito, on behalf of the whole Court, that speedy trials serve the public interest by preventing extended pretrial delay from impairing the deterrent effect of punishment.

Trumps public denigration of the legal systemthe incssant claims that the criminal case is a witch huntalso gives a nation committed to the rule of law a vital interest in holding a public trial where a jury can assess Trumps actions. Trials can thus serve to restore faith in the justice system.

It is worth noting that when the government seeks its day in court, it simultaneously affords the defendant his day in courtproviding him more process, not less. Indeed, the Department of Justices so-called 60-day rulewhich generally forbids it from taking overt actions in non-public cases with respect to political candidates and closely related people right before an electionis there to avoid a federal prosecutor hurling untested new allegations against a political candidate precisely because he would not have time to clear his reputation before the election. Here, the government is seeking to provide just that forum for Trump to clear his name before the electionto test the criminal allegations against the highest legal standard we have for adjudicating factsand yet right-wing critics attack Smith. Trump of course wants to avoid that test, but that is an interest the courts should abjure.

The justices still have time to get back on track. Trumps claim that presidents have absolute immunity should be an easy issue to resolve given these criminal charges. Whether a president should have criminal immunity in some specific circumstances is an abstract question for another day, because efforts to stay in office and use the levers of the presidency are certainly not those specific circumstances. The appeals have delayed matters long enough at the expense of the right of the American people to a fair and speedy trial. Let them not stand in the way of ever having a trial at all.

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Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes

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Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Tyler Reddick stole a NASCAR Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway when front-runner Michael McDowell, swerving up and down the track trying to block Brad Keselowski, wound up crashing with the finish line in sight Sunday.

It was another wild Talladega finish — and set off a raucous celebration on pit road with one of Reddick’s team owners, Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

“This is like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan said in Victory Lane. “I’m so ecstatic.”

McDowell, the pole-sitter, dominated the closing laps and was in position to give Ford its much-needed first victory of the year. But his topsy-turvy efforts to block Keselowski — another Ford driver — wound up costing them both.

McDowell spun out, Keselowski had to check up and Reddick sped by to claim his sixth career Cup victory by 0.208 seconds.

A pile of cars behind them was taken out, as well. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 machine slid across the finish line on its side, pinned against the wall in front the massive grandstands.

Reddick climbed out of his No. 45 car and scurried up the fence like Spider-Man.

“That was crazy, fans,” he screamed. “Chaos. Typical Talladega.”

Keselowski settled for the runner-up spot, failing again to pick up his first win since 2021 at this 2.66-mile trioval in east Alabama.

“We went to make a move and Michael covered it,” Keselowski said. “We went the other way and had nowhere to go when Michael came back down. It’s just the way this stuff goes.”

Reddick’s victory redeemed a botched strategy that knocked out a bunch of Toyota contenders, including his team co-owner, Denny Hamlin.

All three Toyota teams pitted in tandem with 37 laps to go, going with a strategy that would’ve allowed them to push the pace on the rest of the fuel-saving field — with an idea of drafting all the way to the front for the checkered flag.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep their cars straight.

Just four laps later, with the Toyota train running at a blistering, single-file pace and chasing down the lead pack, John Hunter Nemechek appeared to get into the bumper of Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 machine, which clipped Erik Jones and sent him smashing hard into the outside wall.

Nemechek then slid down the track and took out Hamlin, as well.

“We had a plan,” Wallace said. “We just didn’t execute it as well as we should have. I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all.”

Jones took the brunt of the blow, a crash that would’ve been much worse without the sturdy cars and foamy barriers.

“I’m a little sore, but I’m all right,” Jones said after exiting the infield care center. “If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve got to be tough.”

Reddick was at the front of the pack and avoided the crash.

In the end, he was able to celebrate an improbable win.

CLEAN RACING: Unlike the wacky finish, the first two stages were caution-free — the first time that’s happened at Talladega since the stage system was instituted in 2017. Many drivers were focused on saving fuel and there weren’t many bold moves.

Finally, on lap 132, with the cars three-wide and tightly bunched in the middle of a huge train, the first occurred.

Justin Haley got a bump from behind and went spinning into Christopher Bell, whose car sustained heavy damage that left him with a last-place finish.

IMPRESSIVE KIWI: Shane Van Gisbergen turned in a strong run in the first oval race of his burgeoning NASCAR Cup career.

The stunning winner of the Chicago street race in his Cup debut last summer, Van Gisbergen showed the depth of his talent by leading laps and staying out of trouble at the harrowing 2.66-mile trioval until the very end.

Unfortunately for the 34-year-old from New Zealand, he got caught up in the final melee and didn’t make it across the line. He finished 27th.

STARTING AT THE BACK: Season points leader Kyle Larson started the race with a huge disadvantage after his team was penalized for altering the roof rails on his No. 5 car on the way to the qualifying line Saturday.

Larson, who had won three straight poles, was barred from qualifying, forced to start from the back of the field and ordered to do a drive-through penalty on the opening lap. He was least a half-lap behind the field by the time he got up to speed and, without anyone to draft with, was caught by the leaders on the 12th lap.

NASCAR also ejected Larson’s car chief, Jesse Saunders, from the speedway.

Larson was able to work his way back into the mix but he wasn’t a contender at the end. He finished 20th.

UP NEXT: The Cup series heads next Sunday to Dover Motor Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr. won the race a year ago.

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Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega

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Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Nineteen-year-old rookie Jesse Love won the first NASCAR Xfinity Series of his career in a crash-marred, double-overtime finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday.

Love held off Brennan Poole, who pulled alongside roaring into the trioval, and took the checkered flag 0.141 seconds ahead of Riley Herbst. Anthony Alfredo and Leland Honeyman claimed the next two spots, Poole faded to fifth and one last crash sent Joey Gase spinning behind the frontrunners.

“Let’s go playoff racing!” Love screamed over the radio.

Hailie Deegan went into the final restart with a shot at becoming the highest-finishing woman in Xfinity Series history, but she slipped all the way to 12th. Danica Patrick retains the distinction with a fourth-place showing at Las Vegas in 2011.

Pole-sitter Austin Hill — Love’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing — won the first stage, led a race-high 41 laps and was at the front of an 18-car train with two laps to go when the usual Talladega chaos erupted.

Parker Kligerman appeared to give Hill a couple of slight taps to the rear bumper, though Kligerman insisted over his radio that he never touched the leader’s car. Nevertheless, Hill suddenly went into a spin that ended his hopes of his third victory of the season and sent the race to overtime.

Kligerman was out front when the green flag waved, but that didn’t last long. Shane Van Gisbergen appeared to run out of gas and Love got into Kligerman going for lead, sending the the No. 48 car smashing into the wall.

Several other contenders had to duck into the pits for fuel before the second overtime, which extended the race from 113 to 124 laps.

In the end, Love had enough fuel to get to the line, erasing memories of another strong run at Atlanta where he went dry at the end.

Chandler Smith comes in as points leader, but finished 25th.

Early in the final stage, the first big crash of the day collected at least a dozen cars, knocking four of them out of the race.

Kligerman and Ryan Sieg sparked the incident on lap 65, trading paint when both went for an opening in the middle of the track during three-wide racing through the trioval. That slight bump set off a chain-reaction crash that left cars spinning, sliding and smashing into each other from the outer wall to the inside grass.

“You have to be aggressive,” said Brandon Jones, whose car was too damaged to continue. “The only way be aggressive is to get up front.”

The day also ended for Sam Mayer, Jeremy Clements and Ryan Truex, while several cars returned to the track with significant damage. A.J. Allmendinger kept going with with his rear bumper cover barely hanging on.

Mayer has failed to finish four of the first nine races, but he’s locked into the playoff after winning last week at Texas in a photo finish with Sieg.

Teenagers won both preliminary races at Talladega leading up to the NASCAR Cup race on Sunday.

Before Love took the checkered flag, 18-year-old Jake Finch led from start to finish in the ARCA Menards Series event.

Justin Allgaier, who came into Talladega ranked fourth in the point standings, was the first one out of the race.

His No. 7 Chevrolet got loose coming off of turn two while running in a big pack of cars, sliding sideways off the track and smashing hard into an inside wall.

Allgaier wasn’t injured, but the 38th-place finish was by far his worst of the season.

“A disappointing day,” he said. “The car was fast.”

Allgaier remained tied with Kyle Busch for the most top-10 finishes in Xfinity Series history with 266. He equaled the mark last week with a third-place showing at Texas.

It was a tough day for JR Motorsports, which had three of its four drivers — Allgaier, Mayer and Jones — wiped out by crashes. Sammy Smith was the only one to make it to the checkered flag in 21st.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

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Baby saved from womb of mother killed in Israeli strike

Palestinians in Rafah are reeling from a series of devastating Israeli airstrikes that have killed 22 people – including 18 children.

The last 48 hours, horrific even by Gaza’s standards, are an indicator of what may follow in any Israeli Rafah offensive.

Doctors told the Sky News team in Gaza how they saved the life of an unborn baby even as her mother was dying from head injuries.

Follow latest: Netanyahu vows to ‘increase pressure on Hamas in coming days’

“We tried to rescue the patient,” Dr Ahmad Fawzi said.

“We realised that she was pregnant.

“We had to do an emergency caesarean to save the baby.

“Thanks to God, we managed to save the baby.”

A medic holds a Palestinian newborn girl after she was pulled alive from the womb of her mother Sabreen Al-Sheikh (Al-Sakani), who was killed in an Israeli strike, along with her husband Shokri and her daughter Malak, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in this still image taken from a video recorded April 20, 2024. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Image:
The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

The little girl lies in an incubator.

She has no name but there is tape attached to her hand with writing that says: “The baby of the martyr Sabreen al Sakani”.

The baby’s mother Sabreen, her father Shoukri, and three-year-old sister Malak all died in the Israeli airstrike.

Her uncle says he will care for her now.

The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters
Image:
The Palestinian baby girl was saved from the womb of her mother. Pic: Reuters

Also in Rafah, another airstrike killed 17 children and two women all from the same extended family, say Palestinians.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the hospital as relatives mourned the children being placed in body bags.

A relative, Umm Kareem, told how the children were killed as they slept in their beds, saying: “These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?

“Pregnant women at home, sleeping children, the husband’s aunt is 80 years old.

“What did this woman do? Did she fire missiles? We complain about our concerns to God.”

The strikes, all in Rafah, have provoked unusually sharp criticism of Israel by the UK government.

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Families mourn as airstrike kills children

Lord Ahmad, foreign minister for the Middle East, tweeted that he was “appalled by the Israeli strike, on a residential apartment in the densely populated Rafah in Gaza, which resulted in more children being killed”.

“We must stop this fighting immediately and bring an end to this conflict,” he added.

But there is no end in sight. Quite the opposite.

Read more:
Trail of destruction in Lebanon’s ‘ghost towns’
Situation in northern Israel ‘untenable’
Are Israel and Lebanon heading for war?

In an address to the nation ahead of Passover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used language from the Bible to hint at what might be coming for Rafah.

The enemy, he said, is “hardening its heart and refusing to let our people go”.

“Therefore, we will strike it with additional painful blows – and this will happen soon,” he added.

Israel’s government says it must take the fight to Hamas in Rafah to bring back its hostages and destroy the enemy, but far more civilians are being killed than Hamas fighters in this war.

Rafah is the most densely-populated area of Gaza. And when the offensive begins here, many more will die.

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