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Trump asks Supreme Court to reject request to expedite ruling on immunity

Former President Donald Trump faces a litany of civil and criminal cases following his term in office and as he was the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination. Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI
Former President Donald Trump faces a litany of civil and criminal cases following his term in office and as he was the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination. Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Former President Donald Trump urged the Supreme Court to reject special counsel Jack Smith's request to issue an expedited ruling on his claim of immunity in the federal case in which Trump faces four criminal charges of interfering in the 2020 election.

In the filing to the high court, Trump's lawyers argued that sticking to the normal review process will enable the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to take up Trump's appeal first, and allow the high court to benefit from the lower court's consideration.

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"The special counsel contends that '[i]t is of imperative public importance that respondent's claims of immunity be resolved by this Court,'" Trump's attorneys wrote in the brief.

"Every jurisdictional and prudential consideration calls for this court to allow the appeal to proceed first in the D.C. Circuit. 'Haste makes waste' is an old adage. It has survived because it is right so often," the brief continues.

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Previously, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the extraordinary petition from Smith, telling Trump's lawyers to respond and present their arguments by Dec. 20, bypassing the typical appellate review process -- a rare step that was advocated by Smith due to concerns that Trump would try to delay the trial through the appeal.

Oral arguments have been scheduled for Jan. 9, but the high court doesn't have a fixed timetable to rule.

In the new filing to the high court, Trump's lawyers urged the justices to take a "cautious and deliberative" approach given the historic nature of the moment, with Trump being the first president to ever face criminal charges.

"In 234 years of American history, no President ever faced criminal prosecution for his official acts. Until 19 days ago, no court had ever addressed whether immunity from such prosecution exists. To this day, no appellate court has addressed it," they wrote. "The question stands among the most complex, intricate, and momentous issues that this Court will be called on to decide."

The filing emphasized that the appeal should not be rushed due to "partisan motivation," and that Smith lacked the legal standing to request the special review, primarily because there isn't much previous legal guidance on the issue.

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Trump's lawyers also maintained that the federal charges against Trump were related to political speech he made while still president, while accusing Smith of running a partisan interference campaign for President Joe Biden.

The timing of the appeal was notable as Trump was scheduled to go on trial in early March amid the early 2024 primary races as he was the early Republican frontrunner.

However, last week U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan paused the proceedings as Trump appealed the ruling she issued earlier this month, which found presidential immunity does not shield Trump from the federal criminal charges, prompting the former president's appeal and later Smith's urgent plea to the Supreme Court.

In August, Trump pleaded not guilty to four charges of orchestrating the alleged "criminal scheme" to overturn the 2020 election results, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Trump continues to deny he did anything wrong, claiming immunity for his words and actions while the incumbent.

The charges stem from a Democrat-led congressional investigation into the deadly Jan. 6 attack on Congress, which found evidence of a wider conspiracy involving Republican aides and allies across the nation, including campaign officials in swing states, who allegedly served as phantom electors in a scheme to throw the election for Trump.

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As a result of the probe, Smith was appointed in November 2022 to oversee the Justice Department investigation into the matter, resulting in four criminal charges against Trump.

Separately, Trump was indicted this past summer by the same special counsel on 37 counts for his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office.

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