The special counsel took the issue of Trump’s immunity to the Supreme Court

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John E. "Jack" Smith, special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump, delivers a statement in June.

Prosecutors asked the Supreme Court on Monday to decide whether former President Donald Trump can face criminal charges, in a move that would push forward a March trial date for allegations connected to Trump’s alleged efforts. to reverse the 2020 election.

Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith wrote in Monday’s filing that the court should strike down one of Trump’s main defenses: that his status as president at the time of the alleged acts shielded him from prosecution.

And prosecutors are asking judges to consider the issue immediately to avoid delaying the trial.

The unusual appeal comes a week after a trial judge rejected Trump’s argument and jumped a federal appeals court in Washington. And it puts the Supreme Court at the center of a high-stakes prosecution of a presidential candidate set to take place in an election year.

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Trump has made “grossly flawed” arguments about the presidency, Smith argued in the filing. Smith said Trump’s arguments that he is immune from prosecution because he is in office or cannot be impeached because the Senate has failed to convict and remove him in an impeachment trial “show no logic or common sense.”

Unless the Supreme Court acts, Trump’s appeal of the issue to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could disrupt the trial set for March 4, the filing said.

Smith argued that Trump’s effort to overturn the election results undermines democracy, and the former president should not be allowed to use the appeals process to delay the court’s recount.

“Nothing could be more important to our democracy than for a president who abuses the electoral system to stay in office to be held accountable for criminal conduct,” Smith wrote.

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Smith’s appeal is the latest twist in the fast-moving federal criminal case against the former president, which alleges crimes connected to his bid to stay in power that led to the attack. at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The four-count indictment unsealed in August alleges that Trump led a broad push to reverse his loss in the 2020 election, which included efforts to stop the counting of votes in several states, place false slates on presidential electors, and ultimately encourage Vice President Mike Pence to vacate. from Electoral College votes in states that Trump lost.

Trump made the presidential immunity argument as one of several moves to dismiss the case in October. He argued that “communicating his concerns” about possible election fraud fell within his duties as president, and he could not be tried for a crime for which the Senate acquitted him in an impeachment trial in February. 2021.

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Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the arguments in a decision issued earlier this month. Chutkan wrote that the president is not above the law and that he could still face federal charges for conduct that occurred during his term.

“Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not provide a lifetime ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass,” wrote Chutkan.