In certain sports, there are star players known informally as “coach killers.” The players are too good to leave on the bench, but then don’t flow with the overall plan and become a liability to the coach, who is the one that suffers the consequences. Substitute Trump for the player and his lawyers for coaches and the situation is near identical. Trump, as an ex-president, demands things of lawyers that they can’t responsibly do and Trump’s ridiculous demands eventually fall back on the lawyers.
Last night yielded yet another perfect example. Trump must fear the release of his Jan. 6th documents so maniacally that his lawyers filed a “preemptive” motion to stay a ruling against him pending appeal. In layman’s terms, Trump’s lawyers requested that the court make a decision to render its own decision unenforceable before the court has even made the decision.
No one outside his legal team knows who asked for what. But given Trump’s solid record in getting lawyers sanctioned or even disbarred, this motion sounds like the result of an evening panic attack. At 10:32 p.m., Trump filed his motion and it took the judge only 90 minutes to “plainly” deal with it. At 12:02 this morning, the judge filed a, “This is not how it’s done” decision. (Probably as she angrily crawled back into bed.)
10:32pm: Trump files a preemptive “emergency” motion for an injunction blocking the Jan. 6 committee from getting his White House records so he can appeal a hypothetical loss before a district judge (tbc, there is no decision yet)
12:21am: Judge says, that’s not how this works pic.twitter.com/EWAFohaIDA
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) November 9, 2021
One can tell that the motion irritated Judge Chutkan by reading a little between the lines. (Obviously, the time of night didn’t help) When a judge says that a rule “plainly” states something, it translates to, “Either you don’t care enough to look up the rule, don’t know how to read the rule, or don’t care about rules.” Because judges usually just state that the rule reads… and is thus denied/granted.
Judge Chutkan could have left it there, simply denying the motion. Instead, she chose to inform Trump and his lawyers that she is well aware of the fact that this is critical to Trump’s future. She added that she intended to rule “expeditiously” on the matter, and at that point in time they can file their motion. Judge Chutkan chose to reinforce the fact that she’s working as fast as possible on it (thank you very much) and if they don’t like her ruling, they can beg at that point, under the rules.
In this instance, the court is almost sure to give Trump five to ten days to file an appeal because if the documents go out twenty-four hours after the court’s ruling it renders the entire case moot. There is a small chance that the judge believes the issue regarding privilege is so obvious that she denies the motion for time to appeal. Such a ruling would be rare, but it is within the judge’s discretion.
Given all the above, it is likely we can expect a decision to come down at any time, perhaps later today or tomorrow.
After Judge Chutkan makes her ruling on privilege and then begins weighing whether or not to grant the stay, Judge Chutkan may revisit crawling into bed only to be dragged up to consider a motion that is “plainly” against procedural rules and have a stern talk with the lawyers. Just as it is with coaches, and just as we’ve seen many times this year, blaming the star player will not help.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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