Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to members of the media at the US Department of Justice building in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
The federal special counsel prosecuting Donald Trump urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to quickly hear an appeal on whether he has presidential immunity, to avoid “undue delay” in holding a trial on criminal charges for efforts to undo his defeat in the 2020 election.
“The resolution of the question presented is pivotal to whether the former President himself will stand trial— which is scheduled to begin less than three months in the future,” Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote in a new filing with the Supreme Court.
“The public interest in a prompt resolution of this case favors an immediate, definitive decision by this Court,” Smith wrote.” The charges here are of the utmost gravity. This case involves — for the first time in our Nation’s history — criminal charges against a former President based on his actions while in office.”
The filing came a day after Trump’s lawyers in their filing told the Supreme Court that it should not immediately take the case, in which they are appealing a federal trial court judge’s ruling in Washington, D.C., that Trump does not have immunity even though he was president at the time of the alleged crimes.
Trump’s attorneys argue that their appeal should first be heard by the federal appeals court in Washington, which at Smith’s request has already expedited proceedings for that bid.
The lawyers suggested in that filing that Smith had a “partisan motivation” in asking the Supreme Court to circumvent normal procedure and take the appeal without having a lower appellate circuit court consider it first.
But Smith in his filing Thursday noted that the case is certain to end up at the Supreme Court regardless of the D.C. circuit court’s decision.
“Only this Court can provide the final word on his immunity defense,” he wrote in the filing.
“The Nation has a compelling interest in a decision on respondent’s claim of immunity from these charges—and if they are to be tried, a resolution by conviction or acquittal, without undue delay,” Smith wrote.
He dismissed claims by Trump’s lawyers about why he was seeking Supreme Court action now, saying they are “unfounded and incorrect.”
Trump currently is scheduled to stand trial in the case in early March. The case has been paused while he appeals the denial of his immunity claim.
He has pleaded not guilty in that case, and in three other criminal cases, all of which he claims are the result of efforts to harm his chances in the 2024 presidential election.
Trump is the current frontrunner in the Republican nomination race.