Jack Smith responds to Trump’s request for Supreme Court to block ‘immunity’ ruling

Special counsel asked court to keep federal election intereference trial speedy

Maroosha Muzaffar,Ariana Baio
Thursday 15 February 2024 17:56 GMT
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Special counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court for a quick start to the trial in Donald Trump’s federal election interference case and asked them to uphold a lower court’s decision rejecting the former president’s immunity claim.

In a filing submitted to the high court on Wednesday, Mr Smith emphasised the need for a prompt trial ahead of the 2024 presidential election saying a delay “threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict.”

The special counsel said the case poses a “unique national importance” since it involves Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election as the current Republican frontrunner, and his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

He asked the court to deny Mr Trump’s attempt to delay the trial until during or after the 2024 presidential election as they await a ruling from the Supreme Court on his presidential immunity defence.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that struck down his immunity defence against prosecution for crimes allegedly committed while he was in office, potentially setting up another major constitutional question involving the former president’s campaign in front of the nation’s highest court.

Mr Trump’s team has been seeking to delay the trial, which was initially set for March 4th, until after the election. Should Mr Trump be re-elected and face the trial he could theoretically pardon himself or ask the Justice Department to drop the charges.

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to members of the media at the US Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023.
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to members of the media at the US Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Smith suggested that if the court decides to postpone, they should treat the delay as an appeal, asking for a fast-tracked process of briefings and hearings. In such a case, he requested that the arguments be scheduled for next month.

“The public interest in a prompt trial is at its zenith where, as here, a former president is charged with conspiring to subvert the electoral process so that he could remain in office,” Mr Smith said.

As for the immunity appeal, Mr Smith said the Supreme Court should reject his immunity defence.

“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 recognise a novel form of absolute immunity from federal criminal law,” Mr Smith wrote.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy,” Mr Smith added.

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