Special Counsel Jack Smith asked SCOTUS to intervene
Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, asked the Supreme Court to rule on Mr. Trump’s argument that he is immune from prosecution. The justices quickly agreed to fast-track the first phase of the case, reported The New York Times.
“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,” Mr. Smith wrote.
On Monday evening, just hours after Mr. Smith filed
papers in the Supreme Court, the justices granted his initial request: to put
their consideration of whether to hear the case on a fast track. The
court ordered Mr. Trump’s lawyers to file their
response to the petition seeking review on an abbreviated schedule, by Dec. 20.
Mr. Smith’s filings represented a vigorous plea to
keep the trial on track by cutting off an avenue by which Mr. Trump could cause
A speedy decision by the justices is of the essence,
Mr. Smith wrote, because Mr. Trump’s appeal of a trial judge’s ruling rejecting
his claim of immunity suspends the criminal trial. The proceeding is scheduled
to begin on March 4 in Federal District Court in Washington.
Any significant delays could plunge the trial into
the heart of the 2024 campaign season or push it past the election, when Mr.
Trump could order the charges be dropped if he wins the presidency.
“The United States recognizes that this is an
extraordinary request,” Mr. Smith wrote. “This is an extraordinary case.”
The trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, rejected Mr. Trump’s sweeping claims that he enjoyed
“absolute immunity” from the election interference indictment because it was
based on actions he took while in office.
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