Supreme Court sets deadline for special counsel response in Trump immunity case for Feb. 20

Former President Donald Trump at civil fraud trial at New York State Court on October 25^ 2023

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday asked for special counsel Jack Smith to file his response in former President Donald Trump’s immunity case by the afternoon of Feb. 20. The former president has pleaded not guilty to charges of undertaking a “criminal scheme” to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The high court’s request comes just one day after Trump filed an emergency application asking the justices to stay last week’s appeals court decision that rejected his claim of absolute immunity from prosecution in the election interference case. In Trump’s application to the Supreme Court his attorneys argued that the high court should allow the appellate process to play out — and effectively delay any possible trial indefinitely — given the magnitude of the issues and the stakes for the upcoming presidential election. His attorneys wrote: “allowing President Trump to pursue en banc review in the D.C. Circuit will provide an opportunity for similar thoughtful consideration in the lower court before this Court addresses the novel, complex, and momentous issues at stake in this appeal.”

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. Last week a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Trump’s claim of presidential immunity, clearing the way for Trump to seek to appeal the issue to the Supreme Court.

The appellate panel dismissed Trump’s claims last week to legal immunity, saying that affording him such protection “would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the President beyond the reach of all three Branches.” U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has postponed that start date of Trump’s trial while waiting for his immunity appeal to play out; it was originally scheduled to start on March 4.

Editorial credit: lev radin /