Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys asked for the federal criminal trial against him to be delayed in a court filing late Monday night, telling the court the charges against him for his handling of White House documents shouldn’t be heard by a jury until after the 2024 election—nearly a year after the Justice Department has asked for the trial to take place.
Trump’s attorneys opposed the DOJ’s proposed trial date of December 11, 2023, in a court filing, telling U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that no trial date should be set until it’s more clear how long the discovery process will take.
Reviewing all the evidence that the DOJ has against Trump and other materials in the case “will require significant time,” Trump’s attorneys said, including reviewing classified materials.
The trial should also not take place while the 2024 presidential election is still pending, Trump’s attorneys argued, saying Trump’s campaign schedule makes trial preparation “challenging” and going to trial in December would be “untenable” for both Trump and his aide Walter Nauta, who was also indicted.
Trump’s lawyers also argued that holding a trial during the election would pose “extraordinary challenges” when it comes to picking an impartial jury, given that Trump is going up against the Biden Administration’s DOJ and President Joe Biden is expected to be Trump’s rival in the general election.
“There is simply no question” that a trial taking place while the presidential election is pending “will impact both the outcome of that election and, importantly, the ability of the Defendants to obtain a fair trial,” the court filing argues.
Trump is also busy with preparing for other trials against him, including his criminal trial for his indictment in New York, scheduled for March 2024, and an October civil trial over fraud allegations against the Trump Organization, which his attorneys argued would make it “nearly impossible” for him and his attorneys to also prepare for this trial by December.
“Proceeding to trial on December 11, 2023, would deny counsel for the Defendants the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation and “result in a miscarriage of justice,” Trump’s attorneys argued. “An accelerated trial schedule would also be contrary to the interests of our Nation in maintaining the legitimacy of, and confidence in our system of justice.”
What To Watch For
Cannon still hasn’t ruled yet on the DOJ and Trump attorneys’ motions for a trial date and decided when the trial will take place. The Florida judge—a Trump appointee who’s been favorable to him in the past—has already set a preliminary trial date for August 14, but that date was tentative and it had been expected the trial would be pushed back. Trump faces 37 felony counts against him, which, based on past precedent, would likely result in prison time if he’s found guilty.
62%. That’s the share of respondents in a recent Politico/Ipsos poll who want Trump’s criminal trial to take place before the 2024 general election, including 46% of Republicans. A 57% majority of respondents want the trial to take place even sooner, before the primaries get underway, which would be in line with the DOJ’s proposed December trial date.
If Trump wins the 2024 election, delaying his trial until after the election takes place could result in the charges against him disappearing, as Trump could either pardon himself—which legal experts are unsure if he could actually do—or install DOJ appointees who would drop the case against him. Trump’s indictment does not stop him from being elected president, and while it would be unprecedented and logistically difficult, there’s nothing in the Constitution that would actually stop Trump from serving as president if he’s convicted.
Trump isn’t the only GOP candidate who’s trying to delay legal action against him until after the 2024 election. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination, has also asked a federal court hearing Disney’s lawsuit against him—which accuses him of illegally retaliating against the company for opposing Florida’s law known as “Don’t Say Gay”—to postpone the trial in that case until August 2025.
Trump and Nauta were indicted in June on charges stemming from Trump bringing back White House documents with him to Mar-A-Lago, and then allegedly obstructing the DOJ’s investigation by refusing to turn over the documents and concealing them when subpoenaed to do so. The indictment followed a year-long investigation by the DOJ into Trump’s retention of the White House documents, including a search of Mar-A-Lago last year in which investigators seized more than 11,000 White House documents from Trump’s Florida estate. The charges against the ex-president include 31 alleged violations of the Espionage Act, which prohibits willfully retaining national security materials and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, along with other charges related to obstruction and making false statements. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he was allowed to take the documents back to Florida with him under the Presidential Records Act. Experts have said Trump’s interpretation of that law is inaccurate, and the documents are rightfully the property of the National Archives.
Prosecutors Seek to Delay Trump Documents Trial to December (New York Times)
Trump’s Classified Docs Trial Tentatively Set For August 14 (Forbes)
What Crimes Was Trump Charged With In Federal Documents Case? Here’s What To Know As He Pleads Not Guilty (Forbes)
A New Poll on the Trump Indictments Has a Surprising Result (Politico)