- By Chloe Kim and Nadine Yusif
- BBC News
Former US President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to stay a lower court's ruling that he does not have presidential immunity.
He had said in his election interference case that he cannot be investigated as President.
Three lower court judges disagreed, ruling that he could be sued like any other citizen.
But his lawyers said Trump should not be investigated during the campaign.
“Conducting a month-long criminal investigation into President Trump at the height of an election season would seriously undermine President Trump's ability to campaign against President Biden,” Trump's lawyers wrote in the filing.
The Supreme Court will now decide whether to stay the ruling, allowing Trump to appeal.
The conservative-majority high court could lead to a long delay in the landmark criminal case accusing Mr. Trump of conspiring to illegitimate the 2020 election, possibly until after the November election.
However, if the Supreme Court declines to stay the ruling, a federal trial overseen by Judge Tanya Sudkan will be scheduled for spring.
As Mr Trump runs for the White House, he faces three more criminal investigations in addition to this one.
He faces charges in Georgia for allegedly trying to sway the 2020 election results and a seven-count indictment in Florida for handling classified documents after he left the White House.
The third, based in New York, related to the concealment of payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Mr Trump's legal team has also made repeated attempts to delay his criminal investigations after the 2024 election.
In the federal election interference investigation, Mr Trump is charged with four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct official action, obstruction of official action and conspiracy against civil rights.
He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and his lawyers have argued that presidents are immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office, even after they leave the White House.
Last week, the argument was rejected by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court, one Republican appointee and two Democrats, ruling that “any executive immunity that might have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him.” He contested the case”.
Now, Mr Trump's lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to stay the lower court's ruling to allow all active judges on the D.C. Circuit Court time to reconsider the case.
In their filing, they warned that denying immunity to the former president would set a precedent “where such cases will recur and become increasingly common.”
Trump's lawyers argued that “without immunity from criminal prosecution, the presidency would cease to exist.”
If the lower circuit court refuses to reconsider, Mr Trump has asked for a stay of the ruling while he files a formal appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court may respond to Trump's request in a few ways.
It could deny his request to stay the ruling that would reopen the federal investigation. It could deny Mr Trump's request for a review, effectively shutting down his immunity argument.
The court may decide to hear Mr Trump's appeal immediately, bypassing a lower court review. It could do so on a fast track, as does a separate case currently weighing whether Mr Trump is eligible to vote in the 2024 election.
It could also decide to hear it on the court's regular schedule, which could delay the hearing in the case past the November election date.
The Supreme Court earlier rejected a request late last year by special counsel Jack Smith, the lead prosecutor in the case, to grant a speedy ruling on Mr Trump's immunity argument.
It's unclear when the Supreme Court will rule on Trump's request.
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