Supreme Court Seeks Special Counsel’s Response to Trump Bid for Trial Delay

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(Bloomberg) -- The US Supreme Court gave a special counsel until next Tuesday to respond to Donald Trump’s bid to pause his criminal trial for election interference while the ex-president presses an appeal that seeks immunity.

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Trump, who is campaigning for a return to the White House, is challenging a federal appeals court decision that let him be prosecuted in US district court in Washington for allegedly trying to remain in power illegally after losing the 2020 election. Unless the Supreme Court halts the ruling, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan will be able to set a new trial date.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ request to Special Counsel Jack Smith comes a day after Trump asked the justices to intervene in the case. The former president is a seeking to keep the trial on hold while he appeals either to a larger panel of appellate judges or the Supreme Court.

The timeline hints that the Supreme Court isn’t in a rush to make a decision on Trump’s application, though the schedule doesn’t indicate whether the court ultimately will keep the trial on hold.

Smith, who has been pushing for a trial early this year, could file his brief sooner. Trump has repeatedly sought to extend deadlines and said the trial should wait until after the November 2024 election. A Trump victory at the polls would let him order the Justice Department to drop the case.

The 3-0 appeals court ruling last week rejected Trump’s immunity claim, saying he seeks “unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results.”

Trump, the frontrunner for Republican presidential nomination, told the Supreme Court Monday that a delay was warranted given the campaign.

“Conducting a months-long criminal trial of President Trump at the height of election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden — which appears to be the whole point of the special counsel’s persistent demands for expedition,” Trump’s lawyers argued.

Roberts is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Although Roberts could act on the stay application on his own, he almost certainly will refer it to the full nine-member court.

The case is Trump v. US, 23A745.

(Adds background on Trump’s request for pause starting in third paragraph.)

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