Donald Trump’s lawyers asked to delay federal trial on classified records mid 2024 campaign

Donald Trump’s lawyers asked a federal judge for an indefinite delay in his trial on charges related to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, arguing he couldn’t get a fair trial ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon initially set an Aug. 14 trial dates. Justice Department attorneys proposed a delay to Dec. 11 because Trump’s lawyers need to get security clearances before they can study all the documents at stake in the case.

But Trump’s lawyers, led by Christopher Kise, argued the evidence at stake is already voluminous, with more on the way. Trump and his co-defendant, personal valet Walt Nauta, are busy with the presidential campaign. And Trump has to prepare for other criminal and civil trials.

“Here, there is simply no question any trial of this action during the pendency of the Presidential election will impact both the outcome of that election and, importantly, the ability of the Defendants to obtain a fair trial,” wrote Trump’s lawyers. “The Government’s request to begin a trial of this magnitude within six months of indictment is unreasonable, telling and would result in a miscarriage of justice.”

The government’s reply is due Monday.

Here is what we know about the schedule so far:

Trump federal charges unprecedented

In an unprecedented case of federal charges against a former president, Trump and Nauta were indicted on June 8 on 38 including charges retaining national defense documents, conspiracy to obstruct justice and concealing records.

Trump’s lawyers argued many issues in the case will be argued for the first time ever in federal court. Depending on how Cannon and appeals courts rule, Trump’s lawyers argued the charges could be dismissed.

“This extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the facts and perception of our American democracy,” wrote Trump’s lawyers.

Former President Donald Trump's valet Walt Nauta visits Versailles restaurant with Trump on June 13 in Miami.

Former President Donald Trump’s valet Walt Nauta visits Versailles restaurant with Trump on June 13 in Miami.

Government releasing evidence in stages ‘due to the sheer volume’

One reason Trump’s lawyers argued not to schedule a trial yet is that they have to shift through mountains of evidence already collected, with more on the way. The government anticipates providing evidence to defense lawyers “in stages due to the sheer volume of documents collected,” Trump’s lawyers said.

The government provided 833,450 pages of unclassified documents including 122,650 emails and attachments and 305,670 records gathered from 90 different custodians. Prosecutors also provided about nine months of closed-circuit television footage.

Once Trump’s lawyers receive security clearances, classified documents will add to that pile. Trump’s lawyers called the government’s schedule “unrealistic” for reviewing the classified materials.

And Trump’s lawyers argued there is no urgency requiring a rapid resolution to the case because “there is an ongoing threat to national security interests” or concern about “continued criminal activity.”

In this courtroom sketch, attorney Todd Blanche stands as he enters a plea of ​​not guilty on behalf of former President Donald Trump, second from right, in federal court on June 13 in Miami.  From left are: Stanley Woodward, Walt Nauta, Blanche, Trump and Chris Kise.

In this courtroom sketch, attorney Todd Blanche stands as he enters a plea of ​​not guilty on behalf of former President Donald Trump, second from right, in federal court on June 13 in Miami. From left are: Stanley Woodward, Walt Nauta, Blanche, Trump and Chris Kise.

Trump lawyers: Other national security cases have taken longer to prepare

Trump’s lawyers pointed to two other cases involving classified documents that took longer than six months to prepare.

Reality Winner’s trial was scheduled 16 months after her June 2017 indictment, although she eventually entered a plea of ​​removing classified material from a government facility and transmitting it to a news organization. Ji Chaoqun’s trial on charges of acting as a Chinese agent was held three years and nine months after his indictment.

“The timelines in both these cases starkly contrast with the Government’s proposed six-month timeline in this case,” Trump’s lawyers said.

Trump must also prepare for a New York state civil trial in October 2023 and a New York state criminal trial in March 2024 on charges he falsified business records.

Prosecutors: Trump case ‘straightforward’

Government lawyers led by special counsel Jack Smith argued in June that a Dec. 11 trail would allow defense lawyers to get security clearances and review evidence in the case.

The lawyers said “the case is not so unusual or complex” to require longer because it has only two defendants and “involves straightforward theories of liability” rather than novel questions about facts or law.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump asked for indefinite delay in federal records trial amid campaign

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