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Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team have filed a response to a request from lawyers representing former President Donald Trump to delay his trial over alleged mishandling of classified documents until at least after the 2024 election.
Trump’s team filed its request with U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed, in southern Florida earlier this week, seeking an indefinite delay in the trial which resulted in 37 charges following an unprecedented FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022.
Smith’s team argued that Cannon “should not even consider” the request from Team Trump:
The United States files this reply in support of its Motion for Continuance and Proposed Revised Scheduling Order (ECF No. 34, “Mot.”). In their response in opposition to the Motion (ECF No. 66, “Resp.”), Defendants Trump and [Walt] Nauta claim unequivocally that they cannot receive a fair trial prior to the conclusion of the next presidential election, urge the Court to withdraw the current scheduling Order (ECF No. 28), and request that the Court not even consider a new trial date until some unspecified later time. Resp. at 9, 10.
There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none. For the reasons discussed below and in the Government’s Motion, the Court should reset the trial date in this action for December 11, 2023.
The response from Smith’s team also goes on to refute Trump’s attorneys’ point by point.
“Defendants’ claim that this Court could not select an impartial jury until after the presidential election does not justify further delay here. Resp. at 9. First and most importantly, there is no reason to credit the claim,” the Smith team argued.
“Our jury system relies on the Court’s authority to craft a thorough and effective jury selection process, and on prospective jurors’ ability and willingness to decide cases based on the evidence presented to them, guided by legal instructions from the Court,” the filing continued.
“To be sure, the Government readily acknowledges that jury selection here may merit additional protocols (such as a questionnaire) and may be more time-consuming than in other cases, but those are reasons to start the process sooner rather than later,” it added.
Earlier in the week, Cannon turned down a request from special counsel Jack Smith’s team not to delay a preliminary hearing in the case involving both Trump and his valet Nauta that was initially scheduled for Friday.
Cannon agreed to reschedule the hearing until July 18, according to ABC News.
“Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, had requested the delay due to a timing conflict with a bench trial he has to attend as defense counsel for a defendant charged in the Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack,” the report said.
Jay Bratt, who is the lead federal prosecutor on Smith’s team, opposed the delay, arguing in his brief, “There is a strong public interest in the conference occurring as originally scheduled and the case proceeding as expeditiously as possible.”
Cannon’s ruling comes after Trump’s legal team made a nighttime court filing on Monday seeking to delay the trial until after the election. Trump currently leads the GOP field by double digits, according to polls.
Smith has already argued in a filing that he wants to go to trial in December because he said the case “involves straightforward theories of liability, and does not present novel questions of fact or law,” the Washington Post reported.
Last week, investigative reporter Paul Sperry claimed to have seen new evidence that the August 2022 raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate by the FBI was indeed “political” and called out Bratt by name.
“In another sign the Mar-a-Lago raid was political, the DOJ prosecutor who authorized it – DNC donor and Russiagate alum Jay Bratt – blacked out every reference to Trump cooperating with subpoenas from the publicly released search warrant affidavit, new court docs reveal,” he tweeted.