Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the claim of blanket immunity

Former President Donald J. Trump asked the Supreme Court on Monday to suspend an appeals court ruling that rejected his claim that he is completely free of criminal charges based on his attempt to disrupt the 2020 election.

If the judges do not issue a stay while they consider whether to hear his promised appeal, proceedings in the suspended criminal trial will resume.

Mr. The filing was Trump's last-ditch effort. The Supreme Court is now poised to decide how quickly his federal trial on charges of trying to sabotage the 2020 election can proceed. If the justices don't move quickly, the investigation could be thrust into the center of the 2024 campaign, or even past the election.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously ruled that Mr. Trump should not be prosecuted for actions taken while in office.

Mr. Trump's attorneys urged the justices to hold off on that ruling and then move forward as planned.

“President Trump's claim that presidents enjoy absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex and important question that will require careful consideration on appeal,” Mr. Trump's resume says.

The appeals court panel, made up of one Republican appointee and two Democrats, said Mr Trump had become an ordinary citizen in the eyes of criminal law after leaving office.

“For purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump is a citizen of Trump with all the protections of any other criminal defendant,” the panel wrote. “But any executive immunity that might have protected him while he served as president will not protect him against this lawsuit.”

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If a stay is sought from the Supreme Court by Monday, Mr. The panel also limited Trump's case choices. A review hearing panel at the full Court of Appeal said it would not stop the clock.

The trial was scheduled to begin on March 4, but Judge Tanya S. Sudken has since removed it from his calendar, and it's unclear when it will be replaced. It depends on how quickly the judges act.

The Supreme Court has already heard the case once, in December Mr. It rejected an unusual request by Jack Smith, the special counsel pursuing Trump. Mr. Smith asked the justices to bypass the appeals court and decide the immunity issue themselves without delay.

Judges to hurry Mr. Smith emphasized: “The public importance of the issues, the immediacy of the scheduled trial date, and the need for prompt and final resolution of defendant's waiver claim counsel favor this Court's expeditious review at this time. “

“The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request,” Mr. Smith added. “This is an unusual case.”

The justices either dismissed the request without comment or cited dissent, apparently to let the appeals court get first crack at the case. The question now is whether the Supreme Court wants to be the last word.

It has many options. It can deny the ban, which will restart the trial. It may dismiss the review petition, which Mr. That would effectively reject Trump's waiver argument and allow the appeals court's ruling to stand.

Mr. In a separate case on Trump's eligibility to hold office, it could hear his appeal on a fast track. Or the case could be heard on a regular schedule, delaying any pre-election hearings.

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In previous cases on presidential immunity, the court weighed in, establishing precedents pointing in opposite directions. Two of them were President Richard M. Nixon involved.

In 1974, in United States v. NixonThe court ruled that Nixon, who was still in office, must comply with subpoenas seeking tapes of his conversations in the Oval Office.

“Neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the requirement of confidentiality of high-level communications can under any circumstances uphold an absolute, unqualified presidential privilege from the judicial process,” Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote.

Eight years later, in Nixon v. FitzgeraldIn 1970, an Air Force inspector general voted 5 to 4 in Nixon's favor in response to Nixon's criticism. By the time the court was active, Nixon had been out of office for several years.

“Given the special nature of the president's constitutional office and functions,” wrote Justice Louis F. Powell Jr. for the majority, “we consider it appropriate to recognize absolute presidential immunity from tort liability for acts within the 'outer periphery.' His official responsibility.”

Mr. In Trump's case, the appeals court panel gave more weight to the first decision involving criminal than civil proceedings.

“As the Nixon court explained” in the Oval Office tapes case, the panel wrote, “entirely barring the president from the criminal justice process would disturb the 'judiciary's primary constitutional duty to administer justice in criminal cases.'”

A second decision arising from the civil case was less instructive, the panel wrote. “When considering the issue of presidential immunity, the Supreme Court should note that its holdings on civil liability do not carry over to criminal cases,” the judgment said.

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