Former President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to temporarily stay a lower court decision that rejected his claims to enjoin his presidential immunity in the Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election case.
Smith indicted Trump last August on charges of conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of, and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and argued that he is entitled to presidential immunity from prosecution, a claim that District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan of the lower court rejected.
Trump then appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court where a three-judge panel last week also ruled against Judge Chutkan pausing the proceedings in the case pending the outcome of the appeal’s court decision.
Trump's attorneys on Monday stipulated to the court that the appeals court decision "threatens immediate irreparable injury to the First Amendment interests of President Trump and tens of millions of American voters, who are entitled to hear President Trump’s campaign message as they decide how to cast their ballots in November.”
"Conducting a months-long criminal trial of President Trump at the height of election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden," Trump’s attorneys argued.
Trump asked the justices to put on hold the appeals court ruling that rejected his claim of presidential immunity to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The court should block the ruling to "forestall, once again, an unprecedented and unacceptable departure from ordinary appellate procedures and allow President Trump's claim of immunity to be decided in the ordinary course of justice," Trump's lawyers wrote in their court pleadings.
President Trump’s lawyers claim that Presidents “have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex, and momentous question that warrants careful consideration on appeal," they added.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a ruling against Trump last Tuesday that would be implemented February 12 unless the former president filed an emergency application at the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the court rejects Trump's request, the case would return to Washington-based U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, with the possibility of a trial going ahead before the November election.
Chutkan has already decided her original plan to hold the trial in March is off the docket.
If Trump wins the election, he would be in a position to order that the charges be dismissed or seek to pardon himself.
The justices have several options for handling this case, including granting Trump's request while fast-tracking a ruling on the immunity issue, or denying Trump's request outright.
If the court agrees to intervene, it could still issue a decision for the trial to go ahead before the election.
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