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Special counsel seeks quick resolution of Trump immunity appeal

John L. 'Jack' Smith told the Supreme Court prompt action is in the national interest

A beam of sunlight breaks through the cloudy skies to illuminate the Supreme Court building.
A beam of sunlight breaks through the cloudy skies to illuminate the Supreme Court building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Special counsel John L. “Jack” Smith on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to act quickly and let the trial proceed for former President Donald Trump on charges connected to his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Smith, in a court filing, urged the justices to reject Trump’s request for more time to appeal a federal appeals court ruling against the former president’s claims of absolute immunity to criminal charges. If the justices decide to allow the case to move forward, Smith said Trump could face trial as soon as May.

Otherwise, Smith asked the court to set an expedited schedule that would allow oral arguments in March. “There is a national interest in seeing the crimes alleged in this case resolved promptly,” Smith wrote.

On Monday, Trump had asked the justices to give him more time to appeal a unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which held Trump could face criminal charges.

“This Court should stay the D.C. Circuit’s mandate 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 application states.

Smith, as if to help demonstrate an urgency in the case, filed a response days before a Tuesday deadline set by the Supreme Court.

The indictment alleges that Trump spurred a wide-ranging effort to overturn his loss in the 2020 election. Trump allegedly tried to stop vote counting in multiple states, arranged for several slates of false electors and eventually encouraged then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes of states Trump lost when presiding over Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Smith in his response Wednesday argued that the appeals court rejected Trump’s claims of absolute immunity, which has “no support in constitutional text, separation-of-powers principles, history or logic.”

“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,” Smith wrote.

Trump has asserted a broad immunity tied to his presidency in multiple cases, including federal civil suits seeking damages from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and in a Georgia state case alleging he committed crimes while attempting to overturn his 2020 loss in the state.

The D.C. Circuit ruled against Trump last year on the civil immunity case, and Trump has until Thursday to request the Supreme Court rule on that case.

The issues involved in Smith’s filing only deal with the federal charges tied to Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election in Washington.

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