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Prosecutors urge Supreme Court to reject Trump’s immunity claims in election subversion case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Jack Smith’s team on Monday night urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the former president Donald Trump‘s claim that he is immune from prosecution in a case accusing him of plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The prosecutors’ brief was filed just over two weeks before the justices were set to answer the legally untested question of whether an ex-president is shielded from criminal charges for official actions in the White House.

“A president’s alleged criminal scheme to use his official powers to overturn the presidential election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power frustrates fundamental constitutional provisions that protect democracy,” they wrote.

The outcome of the April 25 arguments is expected to help determine whether Trump should stand trial this year on a four-count indictment accusing him of conspiring to block the peaceful transfer of power after handing the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden had lost.

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Trump has argued that former presidents enjoy immunity for official actions while in office. Both the judge presiding over the case, Tanya Chutkan, and a three-judge federal appeals panel in Washington have strongly rejected that claim.

The Supreme Court then said it would hear the question, raising uncertainty about whether the case — one of four criminal charges facing Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, — will be heard before the November elections for the judge can come.

In their latest letter, Smith’s team reiterated many of the arguments that prevailed in lower courts, noting pointedly that “federal criminal law applies to the President.”

“The Framers have never endorsed criminal immunity for a former president, and all presidents from the founding through the modern era have known that they may be criminally liable for official acts after leaving office,” Smith’s team wrote.

Prosecutors also said that even if the Supreme Court were to recognize some immunity for a president’s official actions, the justices should nevertheless allow the case to proceed because much of the indictment focuses on Trump’s private conduct.

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Smith’s team suggested the court could reach a narrow conclusion that Trump was not entitled to immunity in this specific case without reaching a broader conclusion that would apply to other cases.

“A finding that the petitioner lacks immunity from the alleged crimes would be sufficient to resolve this case, potentially raising more difficult questions about various facts for decision if they are ever presented,” they said.

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