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The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case has handed the prosecutorial team some bad news.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, 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 Walt 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 2024 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.
Smith charged Trump with 37 counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
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.
BREAKING: 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
— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) July 8, 2023
In follow-up tweets, he noted that the warrant acknowledged that “additional documents bearing classification markings … have been produced to the government in response to a grand jury subpoena” and that, on page 18, it says Trump “agreed to accept service of a grand jury subpoena.”
On page 21, he said, the warrant notes that “… documents [were] produced pursuant to the grand jury subpoena,” again appearing to signify that Trump was cooperating and that conducting a high-profile raid was not necessary.
As for the case itself, in their brief, Trump’s legal team contended that the Department of Justice’s case raises untested legal inquiries concerning their client’s entitlement to preserve documents according to the Presidential Records Act.
Additionally, the lawyers highlighted the challenge of impaneling an impartial jury when the defendant is a presidential candidate.
“Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” Trump’s legal team wrote.
“Here, there is simply no question any trial of this action during the pendency of a Presidential election will impact both the outcome of that election and, importantly, the ability of the Defendants to obtain a fair trial,” they added.
They also pointed to the long pre-trial discovery phase involving a significant number of documents, many of which are classified.