Jack Smith urges Supreme Court to reject Trump’s immunity claim

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By journalsofus.com

Special counsel Jack Smith on Monday urged the Supreme Court to reject Donald Trump’s “novel and radical” claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“The president’s constitutional duty to see that the laws are faithfully executed does not imply a general right to violate them,” Smith said in your office’s main report to the justices before the Supreme Court reviews the case On April 25the last day of the court’s oral argument schedule for this period.

Trump’s prosecution in DC for allegedly trying to block Joe Biden’s victory is on hold while judges consider his immunity claim, and the high court’s ruling will determine whether and how quickly Trump faces trial.

The judges’ decision to accept Trump’s claim, rather than leave standing an appeals court ruling that he can be prosecuted, has drawn criticism for delaying the trial, which was initially scheduled to begin in early March.

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Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in 2024, has sought to postpone the D.C. trial and the other legal challenges he faces until after the general election rematch with Biden. If Trump is re-elected president, he could appoint an attorney general who would seek to have federal cases dismissed.

The justices can rule on the immunity question at any time after the April 25 argument, and are expected to do so before the term ends in late June or early July. That would delay any trial until at least the second half of summer or fall.

Additionally, next week the Supreme Court will review the validity of a law that has been used to charge hundreds of people with obstruction in connection with the January 6th2021, attack on the US Capitol, and that is also a key element of the DC charges that Trump faces.

In the special counsel’s filing in the immunity case Monday, the office rejected what Smith called Trump’s “radical suggestion” for immunity that he said would allow a former president to escape liability even for crimes like murder or bribery. . The criminal justice system, Smith added, includes numerous safeguards to ensure the law is applied fairly, even to a former president.

“These layered safeguards provide assurance that prosecutions will be evaluated under rigorous standards and that no president should be held back from carrying out his responsibilities by understanding that he is subject to prosecution if he commits federal crimes,” Smith wrote.

Trump faces four felony charges in connection with what prosecutors allege was a scheme to block Biden’s 2020 presidential victory: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct formal congressional certification of Biden’s victory, obstruction of a congressional proceeding, and conspiracy against rights (in this case, the right). vote.

He has asked judges to reverse a unanimous appeals court ruling That said, you can be prosecuted on those charges.

In its brief filed last month, Trump’s legal team He said a president’s official acts, including the conduct alleged in the impeachment, should be protected from criminal prosecution. He The threat of prosecution and imprisonment hanging over the head of any president, they wrote, would take away “the strength, authority and resolve” of the person holding the office.

“The president cannot function, and the presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence, if the president faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office,” the document says.

The ruling on the matter by the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit took an entirely different position, saying “Any executive immunity that may have protected him while serving as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

The panel concluded that it could not “accept former President Trump’s assertion that a president has unlimited authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental control of the executive branch: the recognition and implementation of election results.”

When the Supreme Court agreed to take up the immunity case in late February, the justices said the question they would decide was: “whether, and if so, to what extent a former president enjoys presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct that “allegedly involves official acts during the government.” his permanence in office.”

The question appears to give the court an opportunity to distinguish between a president’s actions that are private and those that are official duties, something the lower appeals court’s ruling does not do.

If the Supreme Court then sends the case back to lower courts for additional litigation over whether Trump’s alleged activity was official, which could delay the trial until after the election.

Trump’s lawyers noted in their brief that no court has addressed whether immunity applies to the actions alleged in the indictment and said the matter could be remanded for “further fact-finding regarding the details of this case.”

Smith also addressed the possibility that judges would find that a former president is entitled to some immunity for official acts. That protection would not apply to Trump’s efforts to subvert the election results, Smith wrote, in part because of Trump’s alleged use of official power to achieve a private goal: remaining in office after his election loss.

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