(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the US Supreme Court to decide on a fast-track basis whether Donald Trump is entitled to absolute presidential immunity against criminal charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In a filing Monday, Smith urged the justices to directly review a federal trial judge’s refusal to toss out the indictment against the former president, bypassing the appeals court stage. Smith told the justices that “it is of imperative public importance” they resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Smith said he was simultaneously asking a federal appeals court to expedite its handling of Trump’s appeal of US District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling. Smith said he was pursuing both tracks to ensure the Supreme Court can rule before the end of its term, normally in late June. Should the justices refuse to take up the case immediately, they could do so after the appeals court rules.
The filing marks the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to intervene in one of the four pending criminal prosecutions against Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request,” Smith wrote. “This is an extraordinary case.”
It’s not clear how quickly the court will act. The justices have just begun their holiday break and aren’t scheduled to have another private conference to discuss pending matters until Jan. 5. Smith asked the high court to request a response from Trump by Dec. 18.
In a statement, the Trump campaign said that Smith “is willing to try for a Hail Mary by racing to the Supreme Court and attempting to bypass the appellate process.”
Trump’s trial is currently scheduled to start March 4, but Smith said Monday the proceeding can’t start until the former president’s appeal is resolved. Smith’s team is opposing a separate Trump effort to completely halt all proceedings before Chutkan. Prosecutors say they will continue to meet deadlines and prepare so that a trial could take place quickly if Trump ultimately loses.
Trump repeatedly has pushed to delay deadlines and unsuccessfully argued early on to not schedule any trial until after the November 2024 election.
In her Dec. 1 ruling, Chutkan wrote that Trump’s “four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.”
Smith told the Supreme Court Monday that “nothing could be more vital to our democracy than that a president who abuses the electoral system to remain in office is held accountable for criminal conduct.”
The case is United States v. Trump, 23-624.
(Updates with Trump campaign reaction in seventh paragraph.)
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