By MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is asking the Supreme Court to extend the deadline on his election interference trial, saying he is immune from prosecution over accusations he plotted to overturn his 2020 election defeat .
His lawyers filed an emergency appeal with the court Monday, just four days after the justices heard Trump’s separate plea to remain on the presidential ballot despite attempts to remove him due to his efforts after his defeat election in 2020.
“Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the presidency as we know it will cease to exist,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, repeating arguments that have so far failed in federal courts.
The filing puts on hold what would be a historic criminal trial against a former president while the nation’s highest court decides what to do. He met a deadline set by the federal appeals court in Washington to ask the justices to intervene when it rejected Trump’s requests for immunity and ruled that the trial could proceed.
The Supreme Court’s decision on how to proceed and how quickly it acts could determine whether the Republican presidential primary candidate faces trial in the case before the November election.
There is no timetable for the court to act, but special prosecutor Jack Smith’s team has pushed hard for the trial to take place this year. Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly sought to delay the matter. If Trump were to defeat President Joe Biden, he could potentially try to use his position as head of the executive branch to order a new attorney general to dismiss federal cases he faces or even seek clemency.
The Supreme Court’s options include rejecting the emergency appeal, which would allow U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to restart the trial in federal court in Washington. The trial was initially scheduled to begin in early March.
The court could also extend the deadline while it hears arguments on the immunity issue. In this case, the timetable set by the justices could determine how soon a trial could begin, whether they indeed agree with lower court rulings that Trump is not immune from prosecution.
In December, Smith and his team urged the justices to take up and decide the question of immunity, even before the appeals court ruled. “It is of compelling public importance that Defendant’s request for immunity be resolved by this Court and that Defendant’s trial proceed. as quickly as possible if his request for immunity is denied,” prosecutors wrote in December.
Trump’s legal team has attributed partisan motivations to the prosecution’s push for a speedy trial. “Conducting a months-long criminal trial against President Trump at the height of the election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden – which appears to be the entire point of the prosecutor’s persistent requests for dispatch special,” the former president’s lawyers said. wrote.
Courts should not rush into a trial because the subject of presidential immunity from criminal charges is “a novel, complex and momentous issue that merits careful appellate consideration,” wrote the legal team led by D .John Sauer.
In their request to stay the trial, Trump’s lawyers said they would seek to extend the deadline by also asking the federal appeals court in Washington to give its opinion. Only after that would they file a formal appeal to the Supreme Court, the lawyers wrote. That could add weeks, if not months, before trial preparations can resume.
Now it’s the turn of a court where three justices, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were appointed by Trump when he was president. They moved the court to the right in major decisions that struck down abortion rights, expanded gun rights and ended affirmative action in college admissions.
But the Supreme Court has not been particularly friendly to Trump on legal issues directly affecting the former president. The court declined to consider several appeals filed by Trump and his allies regarding the 2020 election. It also declined to block tax records and other documents from being turned over to congressional committees and New York prosecutors.
Last week, however, the justices appeared likely to halt efforts to keep Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot. A ruling in the case could come at any time.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that presidents are exempt from civil liability for official acts, and Trump’s lawyers have argued for months that this protection should also be extended to criminal prosecutions.
Last week, a unanimous panel of two judges appointed by President Joe Biden and one by a Republican president flatly rejected Trump’s unprecedented assertion that former presidents have absolute immunity for actions within their duties. official. It was the second time since December that judges ruled that Trump could be prosecuted for actions taken while he was in the White House and in the run-up to January 6, 2021, when a crowd of his supporters took d stormed the US Capitol.
The case was argued before Judges Florence Pan and J. Michelle Childs, appointed by Biden, a Democrat, and Karen LeCraft Henderson, who was appointed to the bench by President George HW Bush, a Republican.
The case in Washington is one of four lawsuits Trump faces as he seeks to win back the White House. He faces federal charges in Florida for illegally storing classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Smith and is scheduled for trial in May.
He is also charged in Georgia state court with conspiring to overturn the 2020 elections in that state and New York over secret payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels. He has denied any wrongdoing.
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