Supreme Court agrees to review whether Trump immune from prosecution in federal election interference case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether former president Donald Trump has immunity from prosecution in the Special Counsel’s federal election interference case, an election-year dispute that will have blockbuster legal and political implications for the nation.The justices have fast-tracked the appeal, and will hear oral arguments in late April, with a ruling on the merits expected by late June. Trump’s criminal trial has been put on hold pending resolution of the matter.Arguments will begin the week of April 22. This will be the second time this term the High Court will hear a case involving the presumed Republican presidential nominee. Separate arguments were held earlier this month over whether Trump can be kicked off the Colorado primary ballot over claims he committed “insurrection” in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots.The high court was considering an emergency appeal filed by former President Trump to extend the delay in the trial stemming from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election interference case, arguing that he has presidential immunity to protect him from prosecution.TRUMP ASKS SUPREME COURT TO EXTEND DELAY IN ELECTION CASE, CLAIMING PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITYThat request came just days after a D.C. appeals court ruled the former president and 2024 GOP front-runner is not immune from prosecution in Smith’s case.The request was for temporary relief, to stay or block the appeals court mandate from taking effect, which would give the Trump legal team more time to file an appeal to the Supreme Court on the merits of whether a former president deserves immunity from criminal prosecution for actions while in office.Smith, days later, requested that the U.S. Supreme Court reject Trump’s bid to delay his trial. Though the special counsel’s filing does not explicitly mention the upcoming November election or Trump’s status as the Republican primary front-runner, prosecutors described the case as having “unique national importance” and said that “delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict.”The trial stemming from Smith’s case against Trump has been on hold pending resolution of the immunity question.”If the prosecution of a President is upheld, such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination,” the Trump request stated. “Criminal prosecution, with its greater stigma and more severe penalties, imposes a far greater ‘personal vulnerability’ on the President than any civil penalty.”The request added, “The threat of future criminal prosecution by a politically opposed Administration will overshadow every future President’s official acts — especially the most politically controversial decisions.”TRUMP NOT IMMUNE FROM PROSECUTION IN 2020 ELECTION CASE, FEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULESThe request states that the president’s “political opponents will seek to influence and control his or her decisions via effective extortion or blackmail with the threat, explicit or implicit, of indictment by a future, hostile Administration, for acts that do not warrant any such prosecution.””This threat will hang like a millstone around every future President’s neck, distorting Presidential decision-making, undermining the President’s independence, and clouding the President’s ability ‘to deal fearlessly and impartially with’ the duties of his office.'” Trump’s lawyers added, “Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist.” TRUMP TRIAL DELAYED IN CASE STEMMING FROM SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH’S JAN. 6 INVESTIGATIONThe decision comes after Washington, D.C., federal Judge Tanya Chutkan officially delayed the trial, which was set to begin on March 4 — a day before the critical Super Tuesday primary contests, when Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Vermont vote to select a GOP nominee.Chutkan said in December that she does not have jurisdiction over the matter while it is pending before the Supreme Court, and she put a pause on the case against the Republican 2024 front-runner until the high court determines its involvement.Smith charged the former president with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. Those charges stemmed from Smith’s investigation into whether Trump was involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and any alleged interference in the 2020 election result.Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges in August 2023.
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