Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers file a last-ditch appeal with the United States Supreme Court on the question of whether presidential immunity protects him from being prosecuted for alleged crimes he committed when he tried to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Here are the latest legal developments surrounding the former president who is hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Trump files appeal with Supreme Court on question of presidential immunity

Key players: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,  Judge Tanya Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith

  • As expected, lawyers for Trump filed an appeal Monday with the Supreme Court, asking them to delay a lower court’s ruling that presidential immunity does not protect him from being prosecuted by Smith for his attempts to overturn the results of his 2020 election loss to Biden, CBS News reported.

  • “President Trump’s claim that Presidents have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex, and momentous question that warrants careful consideration on appeal,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

  • In their notice of appeal, Trump’s lawyers said that if the high court allowed presidents to be prosecuted for crimes, that such cases would become commonplace.

  • Trump’s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to pause the lower court’s ruling so that the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can review the issue.

  • Smith has charged Trump with four felony counts in the election interference case, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct Congress.

  • The Supreme Court is the last option for Trump’s lawyers to seek to try to stop the case from going to trial.

  • Last week, the Court of Appeals ruled that being president did not protect Trump from being prosecuted by Smith and that his efforts to overturn the election were not part of his official duties.

  • The appeals court gave Trump until Monday, Feb. 12, to appeal the decision to the high court.

Why it matters: Given the meticulously written decision by three-judge Court of Appeals panel, the Supreme Court could decide that it will not take up Trump’s request for a pause in the case. If the high court does accept the case, it could either end up sparing him from facing prosecution altogether or delay the start of the trial until after the 2024 election.

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