- By Chloé Kim and Nadine Yousif
- BBC News
Former US President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to stay a lower court ruling that he does not have presidential immunity from prosecution.
He had argued in his election interference case that he could not be tried for actions he performed as president.
Three trial judges disagreed, saying he could be prosecuted like any other citizen.
But Mr. Trump’s lawyers said he should not be tried during an election campaign.
“Conducting a months-long criminal trial against President Trump at the height of the election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.
The Supreme Court will now decide whether to suspend its decision to allow Mr. Trump to appeal.
Granting the request by the conservative-majority top court would cause a lengthy delay in the landmark criminal case alleging Mr. Trump conspired to illegally overturn the 2020 election, possibly until after the November election.
However, if the Supreme Court refuses to stay the decision, the federal trial overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan will be scheduled, probably in the spring.
As Mr. Trump fights for the White House, he faces three other criminal trials in addition to this one.
He faces charges in Georgia for an alleged attempt to overturn the state’s 2020 election results and seven counts in Florida for his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
The third, based in New York, is linked to the alleged concealment of a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in all cases.
Mr. Trump’s legal team has also repeatedly tried to delay his criminal trials until after the 2024 election.
In the federal election interference trial, Mr. Trump was charged with four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy against the rights citizens.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and his lawyers have argued that presidents are immune from prosecution for possible crimes committed while in office, even after they leave the White House.
Last week, that argument was rejected by a three-judge D.C. Circuit Court panel of one Republican and two Democrats, who ruled that “any executive immunity that might have protected him while he was President no longer protects him.” him against this suit”.
Today, Mr. Trump’s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to intervene by staying the lower court’s decision to allow time for all active judges on the D.C. Circuit Court to review the case.
In their filing, they warned that denying the former president immunity would set a precedent where “such prosecutions would recur and become increasingly common.”
“Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the presidency as we know it will cease to exist,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued.
If the lower circuit court denies a review, Mr. Trump has asked that the decision be held in abeyance while he files a formal appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court could respond to Mr. Trump’s request in several ways.
He could refuse her request to stay the decision, which would restart the federal lawsuit. That could deny Mr. Trump’s request for review, which would end his immunity argument.
The court could also decide to immediately hear Mr. Trump’s appeal, bypassing a lower court review. This could be done quickly, like a separate case that currently hinges on whether Mr. Trump is eligible to run in the 2024 election.
He could also decide to hear it on the court’s usual schedule, which could likely delay the trial well beyond the November election date.
The Supreme Court previously rejected a request late last year from special prosecutor Jack Smith, the lead prosecutor in the case, to issue an expedited ruling on Mr. Trump’s immunity argument.
It is unclear when the Supreme Court might rule on Mr. Trump’s request.