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Updated December 23rd, 2023 at 14:28 IST

US Supreme Court declines to expedite Trump's immunity claim in 2020 election case

Special counsel Smith had hoped to bypass the potentially lengthy appeals process by directly taking the immunity question to the Supreme Court.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
AP
US Supreme Court | Image:AP
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The Supreme Court on Friday dealt a blow to both former President Donald Trump and special counsel Jack Smith, declining the prosecutor's plea to quickly decide whether Trump enjoys absolute immunity from prosecution for acts committed in office. This leaves the upcoming federal trial, currently scheduled for March 4, hanging in the balance.

With the Supreme Court siding with the appeals court process, oral arguments on Trump's immunity claim will now take place on January 9th before the D.C. Circuit. Only after the lower court issues a ruling could the Supreme Court potentially step in.

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Here is what you need to know

According to a report from Axios, Trump's legal team has made the immunity argument a cornerstone of their defense, seeking a stay on proceedings ever since U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected it in December. Chutkan, who will preside over the trial, currently has the case on hold while the appeal plays out.

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Special counsel Smith had hoped to bypass the potentially lengthy appeals process by directly taking the immunity question to the Supreme Court. "This is an effort to keep that trial date as much as reasonably possible with existing legal mechanisms," University of Notre Dame law professor Derek Muller reportedly said. 

Trump and prosecutors have been clashing over the timing of his multiple criminal trials, some set for next year. Trump's team has consistently sought delays, pushing for postponements until after the 2024 presidential election.

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The Supreme Court's decision throws the March 4th trial date into uncertainty. Whether the case heads back to Chutkan before that date, and eventually reaches the Supreme Court at all, remains to be seen. One thing is clear: the legal battle over Trump's potential immunity and the timing of his trials is far from over.

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Published December 23rd, 2023 at 13:39 IST

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