Special counsel Jack Smith on Monday asked the United States Supreme Court to quickly decide whether former President Donald Trump can be indicted on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Smith asked the court to act with unusual speed to prevent the trial of the front runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, scheduled to begin on March 4, from being delayed until after next year’s presidential election.
A federal judge ruled that the case could proceed, but Trump said he would ask a federal appeals court in Washington to reverse that outcome. Smith tried to bypass the appeals court, the usual next step in the process, and have the Supreme Court address the matter directly.
“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former president has absolute immunity from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or whether he is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution if he is charged but not convicted before “the criminal process begins,” prosecutors wrote.
The court is scheduled to meet in private on January 5, 2024. It is unclear if the justices will meet at the earliest to accept Smith’s request.
Stressing the urgency for prosecutors to obtain a quick resolution that would advance the case, Smith and his team wrote: “It is imperative that the defendant’s immunity claims be resolved in this court and that the defendant’s trial proceed. as soon as possible.” as soon as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected.”
At issue is a December 1 ruling by US District Judge Tanya Chutkan that rejected arguments by Trump’s lawyers that he has immunity from federal prosecution. In his order, Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, wrote that the office of the president “does not provide a lifetime pass in prison.”