Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged the US Supreme Court to reject a request by federal prosecutors to immediately review his claim that he cannot be prosecuted for trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Trump made the court filing in response to an extraordinary request by US Special Counsel Jack Smith that if granted would put Trump’s claim of criminal immunity before the justices even as a lower court races to rule on the issue.
Trump asked the justices to reject Smith’s request for the Supreme Court to weigh in before the lower appeals court does, which could bog down the legal process and delay the start of his trial, currently set for March.
Prosecutors have accused Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, of attempting to obstruct Congress and defraud the US government through schemes to reverse Democratic President Joe Biden’s November 2020 election win.
Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing that the special counsel is urging the justices to bypass the normal appellate process, including a decision by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, “and rush to decide the issues with reckless abandon. The court should decline that invitation at this time.”
Trump has argued that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that former presidents cannot face criminal charges for conduct related to their official responsibilities.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that claim on Dec. 1, prompting Trump to appeal to a Washington-based federal appeals court.
Smith on Dec. 11 urged the Supreme Court to undertake an expedited ruling in order to avoid delaying the trial.
If Trump is reelected to the White House on Nov. 5, he could seek to pardon himself of any federal crimes.
Trump’s appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit suspended his trial. Smith told the justices in a written filing that claims by Trump are “profoundly mistaken,” and that only the Supreme Court “can definitively resolve them.”
Three of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Trump, who cemented a 6-3 conservative majority.
Trump contends that this case and three other criminal prosecutions he faces are politically motivated. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
(Published 21 December 2023, 00:58 IST)