The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Special Counsel Jack Smith a one-week deadline to respond to former President Trump’s request to delay his 2020 election interference trial.
Trump’s attorneys on Monday filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court contesting a decision by the DC Court of Appeals that found the former president and 2024 GOP frontrunner is not immune from prosecution in Smith’s case. The request is for temporary relief, to stay, or block, the appeals court mandate from taking effect.
If granted, the Trump legal team would have more time to file an appeal to the Supreme Court on the merits of whether a former president deserves immunity from criminal prosecution for actions while in office. Chief Justice John Roberts instructed Smith to reply to Trump’s request no later than 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 though a filing could come sooner.
Smith is prosecuting Trump for his alleged efforts to incite the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case in Washington, D.C., delayed the March 4 trial earlier this month pending resolution of Trump’s immunity claim.
The Justice Department may ask for expedited consideration of Trump’s initial emergency appeal in response to the Supreme Court’s order. The high court could then issue an order on whether to grant the state, until Trump files an appeal on the merits.
Alternatively, the court could grant Trump the stay and agree to hear the case on the merits without waiting for Trump to appeal. Were that to happen, the court is likely to expedite the matter, with oral arguments and a ruling coming within weeks or months.
Should the court reject Trump’s request for a stay, the case would be thrown back to Judge Chutkan, who would then restart the pre-trial process and set a new trial date.
Smith previously asked the Supreme Court to take up the immunity question in late 2023, arguing that the justices were the only ones who could fully settle the immunity question.
“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 in a December filing. “Respondent’s claims are profoundly mistaken, as the district court held. But only this Court can definitively resolve them. The Court should grant a writ of certiorari before judgment to ensure that it can provide the expeditious resolution that this case warrants, just as it did in United States v. Nixon.”
Fox News’ David Spunt contributed to this report.
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