WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump told a federal appeals court Wednesday that it should not rush a review of whether the former president is immune from prosecution, accusing federal prosecutors of trying to rush his case of 2020 election subversion ahead of next year’s presidential election.
“The prosecution has one goal in this case: to unlawfully attempt to try, convict, and sentence President Trump before an election in which he is likely to defeat President Biden,” the defense attorneys wrote Wednesday. “This represents a blatant attempt to interfere with the 2024 presidential election and disenfranchise the tens of millions of voters who support President Trump’s candidacy.”
The issue is of paramount importance to both sides given the possibility of a prolonged appeal to delay a trial beyond the currently scheduled March 4 start date. Trump faces accusations that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election after his loss to Democrat Joe Biden, and he has denied doing anything wrong.
Trump’s legal team had appealed a trial judge’s rejection of arguments that he was protected from prosecution for actions he took as president. But special counsel Jack Smith sought to short-circuit that process by asking the Supreme Court on Monday to take up the issue during his current term, a request he acknowledged was “extraordinary” but said he said was essential to keeping the case on track. .
Smith’s team simultaneously asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to expedite consideration of Trump’s appeal, writing: “The public has a strong interest in having this case decided in a timely manner. timely. However, the trial cannot proceed until the accused’s interlocutory appeal is resolved.”
The Supreme Court indicated it would decide quickly whether to hear the case, ordering Trump’s lawyers to respond by Dec. 20. The court’s brief order does not indicate what it will ultimately do.
A Supreme Court case typically lasts several months, from the time the justices agree to hear it until the final decision. Smith is asking the court to move with unusual, but not unprecedented, speed.
Nearly 50 years ago, the justices acted within two months of a request to force President Richard Nixon to turn over the Oval Office tapes in connection with the Watergate scandal. The tapes were then used later in 1974 in corruption prosecutions of former Nixon aides.
It took only a few days for the high court to effectively decide the 2000 presidential election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.
If the justices refuse to intervene at this point, Trump’s appeal will continue in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. Smith said even a quick appeals decision might not reach the Supreme Court in time for review and final say before the Court’s traditional summer recess.