Supreme Court Rejects Special Counsel Request To Rule On Trump Immunity Claim Immediately

Jack Smith had asked the court to step in and consider Trump's claim that his actions leading up to and on Jan. 6 were "official" acts and make him immune from prosecution.
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the media about an indictment of former President Donald Trump, on Aug. 1, at an office of the Department of Justice in Washington.
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the media about an indictment of former President Donald Trump, on Aug. 1, at an office of the Department of Justice in Washington.
via Associated Press

WASHINGTON ― The Supreme Court on Friday denied a request from special counsel Jack Smith to step in and immediately rule on Donald Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution for his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol because they were “official” acts and part of his job.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan earlier this month ruled that Trump’s attempt to overturn the election and remain in power was not part of his official duties and he would have to stand trial on the charges listed in Smith’s indictment.

Trump appealed that ruling to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which had the effect of putting the case on hold until that question was resolved. Smith last week asked the high court to step in immediately, describing the issue as one of paramount concern to the nation.

The appeals court has already fast-tracked its schedule and set to hear the case on Jan. 9. The Supreme Court now will almost certainly not review the case — if it chooses to at all — until that appellate ruling.

Friday’s decision likely means that Chutkan’s planned March start to Trump’s trial on the coup-attempt-related charges will be delayed.

Trump, should he win the 2024 election and return to the White House in January 2025, would almost certainly use his authority to order the Department of Justice to dismiss all the federal cases against him, if they have not been concluded by that point.

Trump is facing a second federal prosecution in South Florida for refusing to turn over classified documents he took with him to his country club home in Palm Beach. Prosecutors in Georgia also indicted him for trying to overturn his election loss in that state, while New York State prosecutors charged with falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn actress ahead of the 2016 election.

If convicted on the most serious of 91 offenses he is charged with, Trump could be sent to prison for decades. Despite this, he remains the polling front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.

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