The question of Donald Trump’s criminal jeopardy could be headed to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later. That’s after special counsel Jack Smith on Monday requested that the court conduct an expedited review of Trump’s claims to “absolute” immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct in office. The court quickly signaled it will consider the petition and asked Trump’s team to respond by next week.
One way to read that request is that Smith felt this issue would ultimately wind up at the Supreme Court anyway, and he’d rather get it out of the way early in hopes of keeping the trial on track for next year. (Trump’s claim threatens to delay the election subversion trial, which is scheduled for March 4. The district judge ruled against him, but an appeals court would normally consider the case next.)
Another reading is that Smith is confident of the outcome and is seeking to call Trump’s bluff — in the process, potentially dealing him a significant early setback in his criminal cases courtesy of the nation’s highest court, which is stocked with Trump-appointed justices.
If it’s the latter case, Smith might have reason to be optimistic.