Judge urged to reject Trump’s latest attempt to delay classified documents trial

‘Each time the Court sets a new deadline in this case and attempts to keep it moving toward trial, the defendants reflexively ask for an adjournment. That must stop’

Martha McHardy
Monday 15 April 2024 12:36 BST
CNN plays tape of Trump appearing to show off classified military documents

Special counsel Jack Smith has urged the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case to reject his latest attempt to delay the trial.

It comes after Mr Trump’s attorneys asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Saturday to push back a May deadline for reviewing classified evidence in the criminal case over his alleged mishandling of classified and sensitive government information stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The former president’s legal team argued that they cannot meet the May deadline because Mr Trump is currently on trial in Manhattan for a separate case in which he is accused of falsifying business records in order to conceal a “hush money” payment made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies all charges against him.

“President Trump has a constitutional right to be present at the trial in New York and, as a result, cannot participate in this work relating to important parts of his defense,” his legal team wrote in a filing.

But Mr Smith’s team countered in a Sunday evening court filing that, while Mr Trump has a constitutional right to counsel, that “right is not boundless,” and accused Mr Trump’s team of “reflexively” asking to postpone a trial every time the court sets a new deadline.

“Each time the Court sets a new deadline in this case and attempts to keep it moving toward trial, the defendants reflexively ask for an adjournment. That must stop,” Mr Smith wrote.

Donald Trump gestures outside the courtroom on the day of a court hearing on charges of falsifying business records (REUTERS)

He added that the former president’s attorneys have had enough time to prepare to meet the 9 May deadline for reviewing the classified materials in the federal documents case, and noted that Mr Trump has local lawyers in Florida who can continue to review the classified materials while the New York hush money trial is underway.

“The defendants have had ample notice that these deadlines would be scheduled and have already had months to complete the work,” the filing said. “Counsel should already be prepared to meet these deadlines, and in any event, other commitments are not grounds for postponement.”

Mr Smith went on to note that Mr Trump chose to hire the same attorneys to represent him in multiple cases, and the lawyers agreed to do so.

“Having made such decisions, they should not be allowed to use their overlapping engagements to perpetually delay trial in this case,” he wrote. “The Court should reject the defendants’ latest delay tactic.”

Special Counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Mr Trump was charged in June last year by special counsel Jack Smith with illegally retaining classified documents taken with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after he left office in January 2021, and then obstructing government demands to give them back.

The trial has stalled in Florida federal court, with Judge Cannon, who is overseeing the case, still yet to set a date for the trial to begin.

The slow pace of the case has frustrated Mr Smith, who has filed a series of fiery briefs with the court in recent weeks in hopes of seeing the case move forward.

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