Trump prosecutor asks Supreme Court to decide presidential immunity question

Special counsel Jack Smith, left, seen in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1, and former President Donald Trump, seen in Palm Beach, Florida, on Nov. 8, 2022.

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The special counsel prosecuting Donald Trump for alleged criminal interference in the 2020 election asked the Supreme Court on Monday to quickly hear an appeal on whether Trump is protected in the case by presidential immunity.

The request by special counsel Jack Smith seeks to fast-track an answer to that question before Trump’s scheduled March trial date in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

If the Supreme Court takes the case, its ultimate ruling could determine whether Trump faces significant criminal exposure over his conduct on the heels of the 2020 election as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

The court later Monday ordered Trump and his lawyers to respond to Smith’s petition by Dec. 20. Trump’s spokesman said he objects to the idea of the high court taking the case now.

“This case involves issues of exceptional national importance,” Smith’s office wrote in its request to the Supreme Court.

The motion says Trump’s trial in Washington “cannot proceed while” his related appeal is pending.

“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin,” the filing said.

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The trial judge in the case, Tanya Chutkan, last week ruled that Trump does not have absolute immunity from prosecution in the case by virtue of having been president at the time of the alleged crimes.

Trump then asked the federal appeals court for Washington to reverse that decision.

Smith’s court filings Monday asked the appeals court to expedite Trump’s appeal and also asked the Supreme Court to immediately take up the question in its current term.

Three of the Supreme Court’s nine justices were appointed by Trump. The court has a 6-3 conservative supermajority.

Trump is charged with crimes related to his attempt to reverse his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.

He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

In a statement, Trump’s spokesman blasted Smith’s motion.

“Crooked Joe Biden’s henchman, Deranged Jack Smith, is so obsessed with interfering in the 2024 Presidential Election, with the goal of preventing President Trump from retaking the Oval Office, as the President is poised to do, that Smith is willing to try for a Hail Mary by racing to the Supreme Court and attempting to bypass the Appellate Process,” the spokesman said.

“As President Trump has said over and over again, this prosecution is completely politically motivated. It is an unprecedented attack against Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent — Banana Republic style! There is absolutely no reason to rush this Witch Hunt to trial, except to injure President Trump and his 150 million, at least, supporters.”

Trump separately is charged in Georgia state court with racketeering conspiracy charges related to his efforts to undo his loss to Biden in the state in the 2020 election.

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