Special counsel Jack Smith’s office on December 11 bypassed the federal appeals court and asked the US Supreme Court to take up the question of whether presidential immunity would apply to the crimes Donald Trump committed while in office, the Associated Press reported.
Later that day, the justices said they would quickly decide whether they would hear the case and gave Trump’s attorneys until December 20 to respond.
Previously US District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that Smith’s case on Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results could move forward. However, Trump’s attorneys appealed the case to the US District Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.
In petitioning the Supreme Court, the special counsel’s office is seeking to bypass the appeals court.
In their request to the high court, prosecutors from the special counsel’s office said the election interference case addresses the questions of whether a former president remains “absolutely immune from federal prosecution” for the crimes he committed while in office or if a president is “constitutionally protected” after he was impeached but not convicted “before the criminal proceedings begin.”
Prosecutors underscored the urgency of receiving a quick resolution to the matter, explaining in their petition that it was of “imperative public importance” that Trump’s claims of immunity be resolved by the Supreme Court so that if the Court rejects Trump’s presidential immunity claims, the trial could proceed “as promptly as possible.”
The Supreme Court isn’t scheduled to meet privately until January 5, 2024. It is unclear if the justices would schedule an earlier meeting to take up the special counsel’s request.
In a statement last week, the Trump campaign blasted the special counsel’s office for attempting to bypass the appeals court, calling it a “Hail Mary” and accusing the special counsel of wanting to rush the trial to “injure President Trump and tens of millions of his supporters.” The campaign vowed that Trump would continue to “oppose these authoritarian tactics.”