Trump And Jack Smith Request Competing Trial Dates In Classified Documents Case

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Authored by Caden Pearsen via The Epoch Times,

Former President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Jack Smith filed motions on Thursday, asking the court for different trial dates in the classified documents criminal case in Florida.

Mr. Smith’s motion, filed on Thursday evening, requested a new trial date of July 8 and proposed a schedule for going forward that includes monthly status conferences so the court can ensure deadlines are being met.

“Attached to this pleading is the government’s proposed schedule for going forward, culminating in a new trial date of July 8, 2024,” Mr. Smith’s filing reads.

In a separate filing earlier that day, attorneys for the former president requested that the trial be preferably delayed until after the 2024 election or, alternatively, be held on Aug. 12.

“As the leading candidate in the 2024 election, President Trump strongly asserts that a fair trial cannot be conducted this year in a manner consistent with the Constitution,” the filing by his attorneys reads.

President Trump’s attorneys argued that the 6th Amendment affords him the right to be present and to participate in the legal proceedings, while at the same time, the 1st Amendment affords him—and the American people—the right to engage in his campaign speech-making.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida has said she may delay the trial. She will hold a hearing on Friday to discuss the scheduling of the trial, which is currently set for May.

President Trump is accused of violating the Espionage Act through unauthorized possession of national defense information, as well as conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements.

Mr. Smith’s proposed schedule does not specify a date for both parties to respond with their positions on the draft jury questionnaire that they jointly submitted to the court on Wednesday.

The questionnaire is intended for potential jurors in the ongoing case. There were disagreements on a few questions, and the list has not yet been released to the public. While the prosecutors have requested that it be kept under seal until after the jury selection process, the defendants have argued that it should be made publicly available.

“The Court will be in a better position to assess the timing of the former after reviewing the parties’ joint filing from February 28. The Court can then set briefing on the questionnaire concurrently with one of the other briefing schedules in the Government’s attachment,” Mr. Smith’s filing reads.

Mr. Smith’s proposed trial date would start the trial just days before the Republican National Convention, which is set to take place from July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee.

President Trump’s attorneys, citing his status as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and chief political rival to incumbent President Joe Biden, argued that holding the trial this year would violate the Department of Justice’s Justice Manual.

The Justice Manual prohibits federal prosecutors and agents from timing actions for the purpose of affecting an election.

In arguing to postpone the trial, President Trump’s attorneys cited the Justice Manual, referencing a 2020 letter from Deputy Special Counsel J.P. Cooney to then-Attorney General William Barr. The letter invoked the DOJ’s “longstanding policy of non-interference in elections,” which Mr. Cooney noted had been in place for “decades” and had “protected the institution from the appearance of political partisanship.”

The requests for competing trial dates come one day after the Supreme Court decided to review the question of whether presidential immunity applies to a different federal criminal case related to his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

The trial in that case was scheduled to begin on March 4 in Washington, D.C., but has been put on hold until the Supreme Court decides on the matter. The decision is expected to be made in mid-June.

 

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