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Jack Smith Rejects Trump’s Demands to Delay Docs Trial Indefinitely

“There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion,” the DOJ argued.

Former President Donald Trump visits the Versailles restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood after being arraigned at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse on June 13, 2023, in Miami, Florida.

Special counsel Jack Smith, the lead prosecutor for the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its case against former President Donald Trump over his improper retention of government documents following his departure from office, filed a response on Thursday to Trump’s lawyers’ requests, made earlier this week, that his trial be delayed indefinitely.

That motion from Trump, made to federal Judge Aileen Cannon — an appointee of the former president who has ruled favorably for him in the past — complained that a December trial date was too soon and unlikely to produce a fair outcome for him.

Within Trump’s filing earlier this week, lawyers for the former president implied, among other items, that:

  • There was impropriety on the part of the DOJ, suggesting, without evidence, that the 37 indictment charges made against him were politically motivated;
  • A trial date later this year would interfere with Trump’s ability to compete in the 2024 GOP primaries;
  • A trial for Trump, at this time, would interfere with his lawyers’ abilities to respond to other charges or investigations he is facing elsewhere; and
  • Trump couldn’t receive a fair trial on the basis that he’s a candidate for high office.

To remedy the purported problems they outlined, Trump’s lawyers demanded that Cannon delay the trial indefinitely, an action that could result in the charges being dropped entirely if Trump wins the 2024 race and replaces DOJ officials with individuals more favorable to him.

Smith’s filing forcefully rejected each of those arguments, noting that the demands made by Trump were extraordinary. “There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion,” the DOJ’s filing stated, “and the Defendants provide none.”

Trump’s lawyers “have it exactly backward,” in terms of chiding the DOJ for seeking an “expedited” trial, the filing stated. Indeed, “a speedy trial is a foundational requirement of the Constitution and the United States Code, not a Government preference that must be justified,” the DOJ argued.

Smith and the DOJ also pointed out that the right to a “speedy trial” doesn’t just benefit defendants but also serves the public’s best interests, as they too have a stake in seeing justice served out in a timely fashion.

Trump’s arguments that he couldn’t receive a fair trial were also dubious, the DOJ stated:

Defendants’ claim that this Court could not select an impartial jury until after the presidential election does not justify further delay here. … There is no reason to credit the claim. Our jury system relies on the Court’s authority to craft a thorough and effective jury selection process, and on prospective jurors’ ability and willingness to decide cases based on the evidence presented to them, guided by legal instructions from the Court.

“Moreover, the conditions that Defendants argue will make it a challenge to select a jury will not appreciably change after the completion of the election,” the DOJ added. “The Government’s position is that the best way to move this case forward consistent with the Defendants’ rights and the public’s interest is to set a trial date now.”

The filing also rejected Trump’s errant claims, made in his previous motion and in several public statements by the former president, that the Presidential Records Act somehow meant that he was entitled to remove government records from the White House, including hundreds that were marked classified.

The act “in no way purports to address the retention of national security information,” the DOJ’s filing stated. “The defendants are, of course, free to make whatever arguments they like for dismissal of the indictment, and the government will respond promptly. But they should not be permitted to gesture at a baseless legal argument, call it ‘novel,’ and then claim that the court will require an indefinite continuance in order to resolve it.”

The DOJ further clamped down on Trump and his legal team, writing to Cannon on Thursday that the trial is already being delayed by his lawyers’ seeming incompetence. To ensure a fair trial, DOJ officials must share their evidence with Trump’s lawyers, but because of the sensitivity of the documents involved, they must obtain interim security clearances, which they were supposed to have done by Thursday.

“In order to receive an interim clearance, counsel first needed to submit their Form SF-86 and supporting documentation to the Litigation Security Group. As of this filing, only two [of Trump’s lawyers] have completed this task,” the DOJ noted.

On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers told the court that they intend to complete the required task by Monday.

The filing by the DOJ, responding to Trump’s demands to essentially delay the trial to an unknown date, was heralded by a number of legal experts, including former Justice Department lawyer Glenn Kirschner.

“This is a persuasive court pleading,” Kirschner said on MSNBC Thursday night. “A model of clarity, of brevity, of persuasion. It is only ten pages, double-spaced. It’s a quick, easy read.”

The DOJ lawyers “really just sort of embarrass the Trump defense team’s request and they don’t let up for the ten pages,” he added.

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