Federal court agrees to Jack Smith’s request for speedy appeal to Trump’s immunity claim

December 14, 2023

The U.S. Court of Appeals in DC on Wednesday granted Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for an expedited appeal in former President Trump’s 2020 election interference case.

The court set several deadlines—the latest being January 2—for prosecutors and the defense to file briefs regarding Trump’s assertion that the case should be dismissed because, Trump attorneys claim, he has immunity from prosecution for actions taken while he was President. 

Earlier this month U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected a series of arguments from Trump’s team to have the case dismissed, including that Trump can’t be prosecuted for alleged action surrounding his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss because those actions were “at the heart of his official responsibilities as President.” 

Chutkan has slated the trial’s start date for March 4, but on Wednesday—just ahead of the appeal’s court granting the motion to expedite—she put the trial on hold until the immunity issue is resolved.

The appeal will be weighed by Judge Karen Henderson, a Bush appointee, and Judges J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan, both Biden appointees. They comprise the same three-judge panel that granted the motion to expedite.

Earlier this week, the special counsel’s office had gone over the head of the appeals court, filing a request with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that the Justices weigh in on the presidential immunity issue.  The Supreme Court has asked Trump’s legal team to respond to that request by December 20.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts surrounding attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.

Earlier this month, the DC Court of Appeals ruled that Trump does not have immunity from lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol—a deadly riot that was unsuccessfully aimed at stopping Congress in its Constitutional duty to certify President Biden’s 2020 election victory.

PHOTO: U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit

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