Jack Smith Asks Supreme Court to Move Quickly in Trump Immunity Case

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Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to reject a request from Mr. Trump to put the case on hold while he pursues appeals.

“Delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict — a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here, as it involves federal criminal charges against a former president for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, including through the use of official power,” Mr. Smith’s filing said.

The question before the justices is preliminary: Should they pause an appeals court’s ruling rejecting Mr. Trump’s claim that he is absolutely immune from prosecution for things he did while president? The answer to that will determine whether trial proceedings may resume as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear a promised petition seeking review of the ruling itself.

The trial had been scheduled to start on March 4 but was deferred while the lower courts sorted out whether Mr. Trump has immunity. When a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against Mr. Trump this month, it gave him a brief window to seek a stay from the Supreme Court saying that proceedings at the trial court would not restart until the justices ruled on his application.

Mr. Trump’s stay application, filed Monday, asked the justices to put the case on hold long enough to allow him to ask the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the case and then to appeal to the Supreme Court should he lose. Such requests to slow proceedings have been a central feature of Mr. Trump’s litigation strategy in fighting criminal cases against him around the country.

Any significant delays in the federal election-interference case could plunge the trial into the heart of the 2024 campaign season or push it past the election. If Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, wins the presidency, he could order that the charges be dropped.

Mr. Smith asked the Supreme Court to move quickly.

“The nation has a compelling interest in the prompt resolution of this case,” he wrote, adding that Mr. Trump’s “personal interest in postponing trial proceedings must be weighed against two powerful countervailing considerations: the government’s interest in fully presenting its case without undue delay and the public’s compelling interest in a prompt disposition of the case.”

The case on immunity is just one of three concerning Mr. Trump and the charges against him pending before the Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments last week over whether he is eligible to hold office at all, and it will hear arguments this spring over the scope of two of the charges against him in the federal election-interference case brought by Mr. Smith.

Lower courts have rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that he is completely immune from prosecution for acts he took as president.

The trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, ruled that Mr. Trump could be tried. “Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy,” she wrote, “the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.”

The appeals court panel agreed. “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant,” the panel wrote in an unsigned decision. “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

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