Donald Trump's lawyers asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to stay the criminal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, as he prepares to challenge a recent appeals court ruling that he was not immune from prosecution.
The former US president also asked the nation's highest court to stay proceedings before the US Court of Appeals because of the Washington DC Circuit's order that prevented him from seeking what is known as a new en banc hearing of the case by all the appeal judges.
President Trump's request easily satisfies the Court's traditional factors for granting a stay of the warrant pending en banc review and review on certiorari by this Court, wrote Trump attorneys John Sauer, John Lauro and Greg Singer, in the 110-page motion.
The petition claimed that Trump had met the key criteria for the Supreme Court to grant a stay because there was a good chance it would hear the case and that without a stay, Trump would suffer irreparable harm if the case went to trial in the meantime.
It stands to reason that President Trump's claim to immunity entitles him not to be tried at all and to avoid the burden of litigation pending consideration of his claim, the petition states.
The filing broadly lays out previous arguments Trump has made regarding presidential immunity, which his legal team sees as the best way to delay the impending trial because it is a means by which Trump could appeal before the trial, which would trigger also automatic suspension.
Trump has made no secret that his strategy for all of his impending affairs has been to seek to ideally delay the 2024 election to November, in the hopes that winning a second presidency might allow him to pardon himself or his attorney general to drop the charges.
For months, Trump tried to advance an overarching view of the executive branch that said he had absolute immunity from prosecution because the conduct accused by special counsel Jack Smith fell within the outer scope of his duties as president.
That claim was rejected by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing his case in Washington, and rejected his argument. He received similar treatment from a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit, which flatly rejected his position.
We cannot accept former President Trump's assertion that a president has unlimited power to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power, according to the three-judge panel's unsigned but unanimous opinion .
Basically, former President Trump's position would fail our system of separate powers by placing the president beyond the reach of all three. [government] branches, the notice said. We cannot accept that the presidency places its former occupants above the law forever.
But Trump's lawyers have long viewed the immunity issue more as a way to keep the case from going to trial than as an argument they would win on the merits. It was perhaps the only motion they could make that triggered a pretrial appeal and came with an automatic stay.
Trump was forced to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, instead of launching an interim challenge that would cause additional delays, after the D.C. circuit panel released parameters for how Trump could pursue further appeals if he wanted the case to remain frozen.
The panel ruled that Trump must petition the Supreme Court by Monday to uphold the stay. The stay would remain in effect until the Supreme Court declines to hear the case or until it issues a judgment in the event it agrees to take up the case.
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This effectively prevented Trump from pursuing an en banc rehearsal, where the full D.C. Circuit judges would reconsider the three-judge panel's decision since pretrial proceedings under Chutkan would resume pending the D.C. Circuit's weighing. In.
Over the weekend, Trump's chief lawyer, John Sauer, prepared the stay request, a person familiar with the matter said.
The concern in recent days within Trump's legal team was whether the Supreme Court would agree to keep the case frozen while Trump made his final appeal, the person said. And even if they grant the stay, it remains unclear whether the Supreme Court would ultimately agree to take up the case.
How the court acts next could decide whether Trump faces trial in the federal election interference case before the 2024 presidential election. Recent public polls have shown that voters would be more likely to vote for the Democratic president incumbent Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in 2020, if he were convicted in this case.
If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, it would restore jurisdiction to Chutkan in federal district court in Washington. Chutkan canceled the March 4 trial date she had originally scheduled, but otherwise showed her determination to proceed with the trial with unusual speed.
If the Supreme Court accepts the case, the question will be how quickly it sets deadlines and arguments and how quickly it issues a decision. The closer the court's decision gets to the end of its term, the more unlikely it is that a trial will take place before the election.
The speed with which the Supreme Court acted became important because Chutkan promised Trump that he would have the full seven months to prepare his defense for trial, as it had contemplated in its initial order setting the trial date for the 4 March.
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