Special counsel takes Trump trial to US Supreme Court

Jack Smith seeks a historic Supreme Court ruling on Trump's immunity claim, marking the first time the court intervenes in a former president's prosecution

Former President Donald Trump is facing four separate indictments at both state and federal levels. 
 (photo: DW)
Former President Donald Trump is facing four separate indictments at both state and federal levels. (photo: DW)


In an extraordinary move, special counsel Jack Smith personally asked the US Supreme Court to decide whether former President Donald Trump has any immunity from criminal prosecution for the alleged crimes he committed while in office.

This will be the first time in the country's history that the apex court will weigh in on the historic prosecution of the former President.

Smith, who is overseeing two criminal investigations into Trump, asked the court on Monday, 11 December, for a quick ruling on whether he is immune from federal prosecution, the BBC reported.

The top court later agreed to consider his request and asked the former President's legal team to file a response by 20 December.

The justices, however, gave no indication of how or when they would ultimately rule.

Trump is scheduled to stand trial in March 2024 on federal charges relating to an alleged plot to overturn the 2020 election results.

Smith's rare direct request to the country's highest court is an attempt to leapfrog the lower courts altogether and avoid any delays to the scheduled March 4, 2024 trial date.

"This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution," the BBC quoted the special counsel as saying.

He added that Trump's claims of presidential immunity are "profoundly mistaken" and "only this court can definitively resolve them".

The former President's indictment in the 2020 election case charges him with four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the US government.

But he is also facing multiple legal cases, including a second one brought by Smith which accuses him of mishandling classified material after he left the White House.

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Published: 12 Dec 2023, 10:01 AM