Federal prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to take up issue of Trump immunity in 2020 election interference case News
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Federal prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to take up issue of Trump immunity in 2020 election interference case

Federal prosecutors asked the US Supreme Court on Monday to intervene in the criminal case against former President Donald Trump, which alleges that the former president engaged in election interference during the 2020 US presidential election.

Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the court to take up an appeal currently pending before the US Court of Appeals for DC to determine whether Trump has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for crimes he committed while in office—a claim the district court previously rejected. Smith opens his petition to the court by stating, “This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy.” For that reason, Smith stated, “It is of imperative public importance that [Trump’s] claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected.”

The case is currently slated to proceed to trial on March 4, 2024. However, it is currently on hold while the US Court of Appeals for DC addresses an appeal from Trump. The appeal stems from a December 1st decision from District Judge Tanya Chutkan that rejected Trump’s request to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity. Trump continues to insist that the US Constitution shields him from any criminal responsibility for actions committed while he held the office of the presidency. Trump also argues that the criminal charges amount to double jeopardy, since he was already tried and impeached in the US House of Representatives—though not on the same charges.

Normally, the case would have to proceed through the appeals court before potentially being taken up by US Supreme Court. Faced with the potential of losing the March 4, 2024 trial date, however, federal prosecutors sought on Monday to expedite the appellate process. “The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request,” Smith wrote in his petition to the court, “This is an extraordinary case.”

Smith explained:

If appellate review of the decision below were to proceed through the ordinary process in the court of appeals, the pace of review may not result in a final decision for many months; even if the decision arrives sooner, the timing of such a decision might prevent this Court from hearing and deciding the case this Term.

The Supreme Court’s term began this past October, and justices are usually expected to sit through either June or July, which is when a bulk of the court’s decisions are released.

Trump currently faces four criminal counts in this case, which is set to go to trial before a jury in Washington DC on March 4, 2024. This is one of four criminal cases the former president faces—spanning 91 federal and state criminal charges.