ABC News – The Supreme Court has denied special counsel Jack Smith’s request to immediately take up former President Donald Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution in his federal election interference case.
In a single-line order Friday, the court declined to grant a writ of certiorari before judgment — meaning it will allow a federal appeals court to hear the matter first, which is what Trump’s legal team had urged the court to do.
The decision effectively keeps the court out of the case for now and could mean the case’s March 4 trial date could be delayed.
Trump is seeking the dismissal of the case on the grounds that he has “absolute immunity” from prosecution for actions taken while serving in the nation’s highest office.
Smith earlier this month asked the Supreme Court to step in and quickly rule on the issue — a potentially landmark decision that could, for the first time in American history, determine whether a former U.S. president can be prosecuted for actions taken while in office.
Attorneys for Trump asked the Supreme Court to reject the special counsel’s request, urging the justices to allow a federal appeals court to consider the matter first.
Trump in August pleaded not guilty to charges of undertaking a “criminal scheme” to overturn the results of the 2020 election by enlisting a slate of so-called “fake electors,” using the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations,” trying to enlist the vice president to “alter the election results,” and promoting false claims of a stolen election as the Jan. 6 riot raged — all in an effort to subvert democracy and remain in power.
The former president has denied all wrongdoing and denounced the charges as “a persecution of a political opponent.”