Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether Trump is immune from prosecution.

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Special Counsel Jack Smith and former President Donald Trump



CNN

Special Counsel Jack Smith on Monday The Supreme Court has asked It’s the first time the high court has weighed in on the former president’s historic case — to determine whether Donald Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for alleged crimes he committed while in office.

The unusual request is for Smith to continue to oversee the election tampering trial — currently scheduled for early March. Smith is asking the Supreme Court to take the rare step of quickly resolving a core issue in the case against Trump, bypassing a federal appeals court.

Smith’s group has asked the court to reconsider District Judge Tanya Sudkhan ruled As a former president, Trump is not immune from election sabotage lawsuits brought in Washington, DC. The former president’s attorneys argued that Trump’s alleged actions regarding the 2020 election results were part of his official duties at the time and were therefore protected by presidential immunity.

The lawyers asked the court to decide whether Trump is protected by double jeopardy. Defense attorneys have argued that because Trump was acquitted by the Senate during his impeachment trial, he cannot be tried criminally for the same crimes.

If the Supreme Court takes up the case, it will avoid the issue of presidential immunity from being decided by the Court of Appeals. Trump’s team last week asked an appeals court to review Sutkan’s ruling and asked Sutkan to suspend all trial dates in the meantime.

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The question of presidential immunity, which Trump intends to use as part of his defense, must be resolved before Trump goes to trial, which is currently scheduled for March 2024.

“However, respondent’s appeal of the ruling denying his immunity and related claims suspends the trial of the charges against him, which is scheduled to begin on March 4, 2024,” Smith’s team wrote. “The defendant’s claims of immunity must be resolved by this court, and if his claim of immunity is denied, it is of public importance that the defendant’s trial proceed as promptly as possible.”

The filing continues, “As the district court held, respondent’s claims are deeply flawed. But only this court can resolve them.

The special counsel panel points to a similar maneuver in a 1974 Supreme Court case that rejected then-President Richard Nixon’s claims in a subpoena fight over the Oval Office tapes. In that case, the high court moved quickly to resolve the matter, prompting one of the Watergate-era cases to proceed quickly.

“Historically, the Supreme Court has rarely agreed to this kind of gambit — with the possibility of an appeal before a federal appeals court,” he said. Steve VladekCNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

“But not only has the court shown a greater willingness to expedite appeals since 2019, but even before then, this is the perfect case that has agreed to go expedited,” Vladek added.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, lawyers with the special counsel wrote that “nothing is more important to our democracy” than holding a former president accountable for breaking the law.

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“A cornerstone of our constitutional order is that no person is above the law,” Smith’s group wrote. “The strength of that principle is at its peak when, as here, a grand jury indicts a former president of federal crimes to subvert a peaceful transfer of power to his legally elected successor.”

Lawyers urged the justices to take up the case now, arguing that the high-profile nature of the case warranted a departure from the normal appellate process.

“If an appellate review of the judgment below were to proceed through the ordinary process in the Court of Appeals, the speed of the review may not reach a final decision for several months; even if a decision were to come soon, the timing of such a decision would prevent this Court from hearing and deciding within this period.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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