DOJ opposes Trump bid to indefinitely delay classified documents trial

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Nevada Republican volunteer recruiting event at Fervent: A Calvary Chapel on July 8, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The Department of Justice‘s special counsel on Thursday urged a federal judge to reject Donald Trump’s bid to indefinitely delay his trial on criminal charges related to his retention of classified documents after he left the White House.

DOJ special counsel Jack Smith’s team said in a new court filing that the former president’s trial should start in Florida on Dec. 11, and not wait until after the 2024 presidential election as Trump and his co-defendant Walt Nauta have requested.

Trump is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

“There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none,” Smith’s prosecutors wrote in their filing U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“A speedy trial is a foundational requirement of the Constitution and the United States Code, not a Government preference that must be justified,” the special counsel’s team added. “Defendants’ claim that this Court could not select an impartial jury until after the presidential election does not justify further delay here.”

In their own filing Tuesday night, lawyers for Trump and Nauta, who works as Trump’s personal aide, argued that Smith’s proposed December start for the trial is “unrealistic” given the volume of evidence and special circumstances of the case.

Trump is the first president, former or otherwise, to be criminally charged in federal court.

He was indicted in early June on 37 counts in connection with allegedly illegally keeping classified government documents at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, and taking steps to prevent officials from recovering those records once suspicions grew that Trump had retained such files.

He and Nauta, who is accused of aiding him in that alleged effort, have pleaded not guilty in the case.

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Their lawyers have argued that the case will raise significant legal issues, among them the question of whether the charges conflict with the Presidential Records Act.

Defense lawyers also said they expect the indictment to be dismissed.

On Thursday, Smith’s prosecutors scoffed at that suggestion, writing, “Any argument that [the Presidential Records Act] mandates dismissal of the Indictment or forms a defense to the charges here borders on frivolous.”

“The legal issues Defendants raise do not justify deviation from a speedy trial date, much less open-ended deferral of considering one,” prosecutors wrote.

A spokesman for Trump, when asked by CNBC about the special counsel’s filing, said, “It is no surprise that deranged Jack Smith, in collusion with the weaponized, radical DOJ and FBI, wants to rush this travesty of a “case” to trial, in order to attempt and further interfere in the 2024 presidential election, which President Trump is dominating.” 

“As laid out in the legal team’s filing, this case should never reach trial, as it should be dismissed pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, the Clinton Socks case, as well as voluminous other jurisprudence,” the spokesman said.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.


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