Trump’s legal team recently made a request to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, seeking a postponement of the trial originally scheduled for May 20, 2024.
They urged the trial to be rescheduled after the November 5, 2024, election, citing multiple reasons, including concerns about the status of discovery, the inadequacy of secure facilities, and ongoing litigation governed by the Classified Information Procedures Act, which regulates the use of classified information in the case.
Notably, Donald Trump currently leads the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He faces a total of 40 charges stemming from allegations of mishandling sensitive records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida resort, after his departure from the presidency in January 2021. Trump maintains his innocence regarding these charges.
In their response to Trump’s plea, lawyers from the Justice Department emphasized their substantial cooperation, having already provided over 1.1 million pages of unclassified documents and all pre-May surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago. This latest information batch was delivered on Friday, as stated by the special counsel. Prosecutors asserted that they had diligently offered Trump’s legal team access to “all unclassified discovery within their knowledge,” with the exception of specific agents’ emails and text messages.
The special counsel’s office vehemently defended the timeliness, comprehensiveness, and organizational quality of their production of unclassified evidence. They argued that Trump’s defense currently possesses complete access to this evidence, more than seven months ahead of the scheduled trial.
Furthermore, federal prosecutors refuted claims made by Trump’s legal representatives regarding their access to classified material gathered during the investigation, characterizing these assertions as “inaccurate” and “misleading.”
While acknowledging Trump’s entitlement to classified discovery to challenge the Justice Department’s allegations concerning the national defense information within the Mar-a-Lago documents, Special Counsel Smith contended that the “vast majority of the allegations” hinge on unclassified evidence.
The central disputes revolve around the circumstances of the removal of classified materials from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, the reasons behind this action, Trump’s knowledge, and his intentions in retaining them, all of which, according to prosecutors, will be primarily established with unclassified evidence at the trial.
A New Strategy
In their recent submission, Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team of prosecutors have firmly criticized the lawyers representing former President Donald Trump, alleging that they have been resorting to “distorted and exaggerated” assertions regarding their access to classified information. These assertions are part of Trump’s legal team’s strategy to postpone the scheduled federal trial in May 2024, relating to the former president’s handling of sensitive government records after his tenure.
The special counsel wasted no time in pushing back against Trump’s plea to postpone the trial until after the November 2024 presidential election. Smith urged U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who presides over the South Florida case, to dismiss Trump’s request, contending that his legal team had not presented a “credible justification” for such a delay.
Federal prosecutors, collaborating with Smith, pointedly refuted the claims made by Trump’s attorneys, asserting that these “unfounded claims of Government noncompliance with discovery obligations” did not lend support to their plea. Moreover, the defense’s assertions regarding their inability to review classified information were deemed as misleading and exaggerated.
Justice Department lawyers emphasized that the “vast majority” of classified materials amassed during the government’s investigation are accessible to Trump and his co-defendants, namely, Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira. Smith’s team vigorously countered the defense’s claims concerning unclassified information gathered during the probe, labeling them as “inaccurate” and part of a larger strategy to undermine the government’s diligence in producing evidence in a timely and organized manner.
In essence, the special counsel and federal prosecutors have staunchly contested Trump’s legal maneuverings, arguing that they lack merit and are an impediment to a prompt and thorough trial process.
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