Supreme Court denies special counsel request to take up Trump immunity claim

The issue will now be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

ByDevin Dwyer and Katherine Faulders ABCNews logo
Friday, December 22, 2023
Trump allegedly pressured MI election workers not to certify 2020 vote
Former President Donald Trump allegedly pressured two Michigan election officials not to certify the 2020 vote, a new report from The Detroit News says.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Special counsel Jack Smith's request for expedited high-court review of the question of presidential immunity related to former President Donald Trump's challenging the 2020 election results.

In a single-line order, the court simply declined to grant a writ of certiorari before judgment - meaning it will allow a federal appeals court to hear the matter first, which is what Trump's team had urged the court to do.

The issue will now be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has signaled it will act quickly to decide the case. Smith had cautioned that even a rapid appellate decision might not get to the Supreme Court in time for review and final word before the court's traditional summer break.

Smith had pressed the Supreme Court to intervene over concerns that the legal fight over the issue could delay the start of Trump's trial, now scheduled for March 4, beyond next year's presidential election.

MORE | Trump doesn't have presidential immunity from lawsuits over January 6, appeals court rules

Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to reporters Friday, June 9, 2023, in Washington.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has put the case on hold while Trump pursues his claim in higher courts that he is immune from prosecution. Chutkan raised the possibility of keeping the March date if the case promptly returns to her court.

She already has rejected the Trump team's arguments that an ex-president could not be prosecuted over acts that fall within the official duties of the job.

"Former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability," Chutkan wrote in her Dec. 1 ruling. "Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office."

Trump pleaded not guilty in June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation's defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government's efforts to get the documents back. His longtime aide, Walt Nauta, also pleaded not guilty to related charges.

A superseding indictment subsequently charged Trump, Nauta, and Carlos De Oliveira, the head of maintenance at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, with two obstruction counts based on allegations that the defendants attempted to delete surveillance video footage at Mar-a-Lago in the summer of 2022.

Trump has denied all charges and denounced the probe as a political witch hunt.

This is a developing story. Please come back for more updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.