Trump makes final pitch to Supreme Court in fraught immunity case

The Supreme Court on February 8, 2024 in Washington, DC.

The Supreme Court on February 8, 2024 in Washington, DC. Julia Nikhinson/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Former President Donald Trump made his final pitch Thursday to the Supreme Court in his effort to pause a trial over the election subversion charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

“There are overwhelming reasons why the case should not go to trial ‘in three months or less,’” Trump told the Supreme Court in a 16-page filing. “With any other defendant, it would be virtually unthinkable for the case to go to trial so soon, and ‘wildly unfair’ to do so.”

Trump claims former presidents must have immunity from such charges to avoid political reprisals when they leave office. So far, two lower federal courts have balked at that argument.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide on Trump’s request within a few days.

With Trump’s final brief in hand, a question of timing is now squarely before the high court. The justices could deny Trump’s emergency request to temporarily block a DC Circuit ruling against him on the immunity issue or they could agree to further consider his case.

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday morning January 4, 2024 in Washington, DC.

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The first outcome would clear the way for a US District court in Washington, DC, to schedule a trial on the underlying election charges, which Smith is eager to resolve before the November election. The second could signal the justices may schedule oral arguments in the case later this year, potentially pushing a trial back several months.

On Monday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a unanimous decision from the DC Circuit handed down last week that rejected his claims of immunity from the election subversion charges.

“Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the presidency as we know it will cease to exist,” Trump told the Supreme Court.

Two days later – ahead of deadline – Smith argued in his own brief that Trump had not met the standard to pause proceedings in his case. It generally takes support from five justices to secure such a pause.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy,” Smith wrote in a filing Wednesday. “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.”

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