1 of 4 | Special Council Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court to act on an "expedited" basis on former President Donald Trump's legal claims of absolute immunity from federal election interference charges against him. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Special counsel Jack Smith on Monday asked the Supreme Court to quickly review a bid by former President Donald Trump to have the federal election interference charges against him dismissed.
Smith petitioned the high court to urgently rule on Trump's argument that he enjoys sweeping immunity against charges he was at the center of a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently overturn his 2020 presidential election loss to Joe Biden, citing its importance to the nation.
The counsel asked the Supreme Court take up the matter on a "certiorari" basis, in essence urging it to consider the case before it is ruled on by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
"This case involves issues of exceptional national importance," Smith wrote in seeking an expedited review of the matter, noting the former president's trial is scheduled to begin on March 4.
Hours after Smith's request, the court said Monday it would consider the request on an expedited basis, according to a report by ABC News.
Trump, who is facing four counts accusing him of conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, is trying to have the charges thrown out on broad claims he is shielded from criminal prosecution for official presidential conduct.
Smith countered last month that Trump is charged with criminal acts unrelated to his presidential duties and is not above the law -- an argument upheld on Dec. 1 by trial Judge Tanya Chutkan, who noted, "Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, 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."
Trump appealed Chutkan's ruling on Thursday.
Smith said a quick ruling by the Supreme Court is necessary because the case is essentially frozen while a potentially lengthy appeals process is underway. If allowed to do so, the process could push the trial date beyond the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump is the frontrunner to again win the Republican Party nomination.
In making the unusual request, Smith cited the example of President Richard Nixon's refusal to turn over secret White House tape recordings sought by the special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation. In that 1974 case, the Supreme Court expedited the proceedings at the "certiorari" stage due to its national importance.
"The public importance of the issues, the imminence of the scheduled trial date, and the need for a prompt and final resolution of respondent's immunity claims counsel in favor of this Court's expedited review at this time," he wrote.
The former president's defense earlier sought to push the trial back to April 2026, well past the 2024 election -- a request that was ultimately denied.
Critics fear that should the trial be delayed past the election and Trump were to win, he could simply have his attorney general dismiss the charges against him, while voters would be denied the opportunity to hear the evidence gathered by prosecutors about what they have called his efforts to overturn the 2020 election through "knowingly false claims of election fraud."
Dion Cini stands with a sign that reads "Lock Him Up" prior to the arrival of former President Donald Trump at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington on August 3, 2023. Trump was indicted on four counts related to his alleged scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election and instigate the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo