The top court in the United States has declined to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, rejecting efforts by prosecutors to expedite review of the question.
The Supreme Court rebuffed the request from US Special Counsel Jack Smith on Friday, kicking it back to a lower court for continued review.
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The decision came as Trump faces a slew of legal troubles, some of them related to his efforts to seize office after the 2020 election despite his loss to current President Joe Biden.
Earlier this week, a top court in the state of Colorado ruled that Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol by his supporters, in an effort to halt the certification of his election loss, disqualified him from appearing on the state’s ballot in the 2024 election.
Trump has said that he should be immune from charges relating to efforts to overturn the 2020 election on the grounds that former presidents cannot face charges for actions related to their official responsibilities.
Prosecutor Jack Smith has alleged that Trump worked to obstruct Congress and defraud the US government through a wide-ranging effort to reject the will of the voters.
A Congressional panel investigating the January 6 riot concluded that Trump knew that his persistent claims that the election had been stolen through massive fraud were devoid of evidence, but pushed to nullify the election results anyway.
Those findings have done little to change Trump’s popularity within the Republican Party, and he remains the conservative party’s clear frontrunner to challenge Biden in the 2024 presidential election.
On December 1, US District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that Trump was not immune from prosecution relating to his efforts to overturn the election. Trump quickly appealed that decision, and his trial is paused until the appeal is sorted out.
Special Counselor Smith then petitioned the Supreme Court on December 11 to review the case, asking the highest court to leapfrog the lower court in order to speed up the trial, currently scheduled to begin in March.
The court declined that request on Friday, sending it back to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has signalled that it will move quickly to resolve the matter.