Former President Donald Trump on Monday faced a deadline to appeal his claim of blanket immunity to the U.S. Supreme Court in his Jan. 6 election interference case — or the case would return to Judge Tanya Chutkan for trial.
A three-judge appeals court panel that firmly rejected Trump’s appeal last week gave him until close of business Monday to file paperwork with the nation’s top court.
Trump’s filing would put the ball squarely in the Supreme Court’s court to determine when and if a landmark criminal trial of a former president will proceed.
The conservative Supreme Court’s decision on what to do, and how quickly it does so, could determine whether Trump stands trial in the case before the November election, in which he hopes to win a return to power and scrap the case against him.
There is no timetable for the highest court in the land to act.
The unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last week sharply rejected Trump’s novel claim that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for actions taken while serving in the White House.
The judges agreed with Smith’s team that such a ruling would give a green light for presidents to order assassinations of political rivals or other outrageous offenses without facing criminal liability.
The Supreme Court’s legal options include rejecting the emergency appeal, which would allow Chutkan to restart pre-trial activity in the case immediately.
The trial was initially scheduled to begin in early March but Chutkan has said she will delay it to give Trump’s defense more time for pretrial preparations.
The court could alternatively extend the delay while it hears arguments on the immunity issue. Depending on how quickly they expidite the arguments, that would determine how soon a trial might begin, assuming they eventually agree with lower court rulings that Trump is not immune from prosecution.
The justices could also decide to put off any decision until after the election.
The Washington, D.C. federal case is one of four prosecutions and 91 felony counts Trump faces, including federal charges in Florida that he illegally retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
He’s also charged in a Georgia state court with racketeering to subvert that state’s 2020 election and in New York in connection with hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
As things stand now, the hush money case is likely to be the first trial Trump faces. It’s set for trial on March 25.
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