Jack Smith Asks Supreme Court To Let Trump’s 2020 Election Interference Case Go to Trial Without Delay

Two lower courts have rejected the former president’s arguments that he is immune from prosecution, prompting him to ask the high court to intervene.

AP/Jose Luis Magana, file
Rioters on the West Front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. AP/Jose Luis Magana, file

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to let President Trump’s 2020 election interference case proceed to trial without further delay.

Prosecutors were responding to a Trump team request from earlier in the week asking for a further pause in the case as the high court considers whether to take up the question of whether the former president is immune from prosecution for official acts in the White House. Two lower courts have overwhelmingly rejected that position, prompting Mr. Trump to ask the high court to intervene.

The case — one of four criminal prosecutions confronting Mr. Trump — has reached a critical juncture, with the Supreme Court’s next step capable of helping determine whether Mr. Trump stands trial this year in Washington or whether the proceedings are going to be postponed by weeks or months of additional arguments.

The trial date, already postponed once by Mr. Trump’s immunity appeal, is of paramount importance to both sides. Prosecutors are looking to bring Mr. Trump to trial this year while defense lawyers have been seeking delays in his criminal cases. 

If Mr. Trump were to be elected with the case pending, he could presumably use his authority as head of the executive branch to order the Justice Department to dismiss it or could potentially seek to pardon himself.

Reflecting their desire to proceed quickly, prosecutors responded to Mr. Trump’s appeal within two days even though the court had given them until next Tuesday.

Though their filing does not explicitly mention the upcoming November election or Mr. Trump’s status as the Republican primary front-runner, prosecutors described the case as having “unique national importance” and said that “delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict.”

“The national interest in resolving those charges without further delay is compelling,” they wrote.

Mr. Smith’s team in August charged Mr. Trump with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, including by participating in a scheme to disrupt the counting of electoral votes in the run-up to the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, when his supporters stormed the building in a violent clash with police.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy. A President’s alleged criminal scheme to overturn an election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power to his successor should be the last place to recognize a novel form of absolute immunity from federal criminal law,” they wrote.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that he is shielded from prosecution for acts that fell within his official duties as president — a legally untested argument since no other former president has been indicted.

The trial judge and then a federal appeals court rejected those arguments, with a three-judge appeals panel last week saying, “We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.”

The proceedings have been effectively frozen by Mr. Trump’s immunity appeal, with a federal district judge, Tanya Chutkan, canceling a March 4 trial date while the appeals court considered the matter. No new date has been set.

The New York Sun

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