Special counsel asks Supreme Court to rule on Trump’s immunity claim


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Washington — Special counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court on Monday to swiftly decide whether former President Donald Trump is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes allegedly committed while he was in office.

In an 81-page request filed with the high court on Monday, Smith asked the justices to rule before a federal appeals court can weigh in on the matter. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case involving the 2020 presidential election, ruled earlier this month that Trump cannot be shielded from criminal prosecution after his presidency for alleged actions that occurred while he was in the White House.

The former president suggested in a filing with the district court that he intends to appeal Chutkan’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But the special counsel wrote in his filing that the Supreme Court should settle the issue once and for all.

“It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected,” Smith wrote. “Respondent’s claims are profoundly mistaken, as the district court held. But only this Court can definitively resolve them.”

Trump’s trial is expected to begin March 4, but he has asked the district court to pause the proceedings while he pursues his appeal. The former president is facing four counts for alleged efforts to stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“A cornerstone of our constitutional order is that no person is above the law. The force of that principle is at its zenith where, as here, a grand jury has accused a former president of committing federal crimes to subvert the peaceful transfer of power to his lawfully elected successor,” Smith wrote. “Nothing could be more vital to our democracy than that a president who abuses the electoral system to remain in office is held accountable for criminal conduct.”

The justices have no remaining closed-door conference meetings, where they discuss which cases to take up, scheduled before the end of the year. Their next conference is set for Jan. 5.

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