By Jack Phillips
Federal prosecutors on Oct. 9 responded to former President Donald Trump’s request to delay his Mar-a-Lago classified documents trial until after the November 2024 election.
“The defendants provide no credible justification to postpone a trial that is still seven months away,” prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office wrote in the response to a filing made by the Trump attorneys. His co-defendants in the case, Carlos de Oliveira and Walt Nauta, joined him.
His lawyers argued in court papers last week, in part, that there are conflicts with President Trump’s case and his trial schedule in Washington on separate charges.
“The March 4, 2024 trial date in the District of Columbia, and the underlying schedule in that case, currently require President Trump and his lawyers to be in two places at once,” his attorneys said, asking U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon to change the trial date until mid-November, which would come after the election.
They also contended that the date should be pushed back because some classified evidence hasn’t been provided to the former president’s lawyers. The Trump legal team has access to only a “small, temporary facility” in Miami to review the classified documents, a process they argue has slowed their efforts.
“The Special Counsel’s Office has not provided some of the most basic discovery in the case,” they said in their motion. “Given the current schedule, we cannot understate the prejudice to President Trump arising from his lack of access to these critical materials months after they should have been produced.”
But federal prosecutors said on Oct. 9 that claims that President Trump’s lawyers don’t have enough access to the classified documents are erroneous. His team has “had access to considerable classified discovery” other than “a small portion” of materials that have to first be reviewed, they said.
“The defendants make numerous allegations regarding their access to classified discovery arising from the status of secure facilities, their clearances, and other considerations,” the prosecutors wrote. “Most of the allegations are inaccurate and incomplete; collectively they are misleading.”
Prosecutors said that there is also “no credible justification to postpone a trial that is still seven months away.”
“They are fully informed about the charges and the theory of the Government’s case from a highly detailed superseding indictment and comprehensive, organized unclassified and classified discovery,” they wrote.
“Their unfounded claims of Government noncompliance with discovery obligations do not support their request.”
In another filing, federal prosecutors said they provided some 1.28 million pages of unclassified materials to the defense counsel.
“This production will include certain materials that Defendants have described as outstanding, including audio recordings of interviews and information related to the classification reviews conducted in the case,” prosecutors had written last week.
Trump’s lawyers’ requested trial date for about mid-November 2024 is notable because it would likely be after the 2024 election, which is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2024. President Trump is by far the leading GOP candidate for president among Republican voters, beating out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by more than 40 percentage points, according to a recent aggregate of polls.
The trial is currently scheduled to start in May 2024. In the separate case in Washington, President Trump’s trial is scheduled for March 4, 2024, the day before the crucial Super Tuesday voting in the Republican presidential primary.
The indictment claims that President Trump improperly retained classified documents taken with him after he left the White House in 2021 and then repeatedly obstructed government efforts to get the records back. That led to an unprecedented FBI raid that targeted his Florida estate in August 2022 weeks before Mr. Smith was named as the special prosecutor in the case.
Prosecutors accuse President Trump of 40 felony counts, including the willful retention of classified information, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied any wrongdoing.
The case is among four in total targeting the former president as he also faces charges in Georgia, Washington, and New York City. A separate defamation trial involving writer E. Jean Carroll is scheduled for January 2024.
Also, the former president is currently on trial in a New York civil case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which accuses him of fraudulently overstating the value of his real estate holdings. President Trump has said he may ultimately testify in that case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.