(MIAMI) — Special counsel Jack Smith’s office on Thursday urged U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to reject an effort by Donald Trump’s legal team to indefinitely postpone setting a date for the former president’s trial on charges that he withheld government secrets and obstructed justice after leaving office, which he denies.
“There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none,” prosecutor David Harbach wrote in the filing.
Harbach directly disputed several of the legal issues put forward by Trump’s attorneys in their own filing earlier this week, when they previewed plans to challenge the authority of the special counsel to bring charges and the intersection that they contend the Presidential Records Act has with the case.
The government countered that putting forward the PRA as a defense to the charges against Trump “borders on frivolous.”
“The PRA is not a criminal statute, and in no way purports to address the retention of national security information,” Harbach wrote. “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.”
Prosecutors also rejected that the volume of discovery already produced to Trump’s team — which included more than 800,000 pages of materials — should warrant an indefinite delay in setting a trial date.
Harbach noted that the government has singled out a much smaller set of “key” documents, roughly 4,500 pages, that constitute most of the unclassified discovery at issue in the case.
The special counsel’s office similarly dismissed as meritless the arguments by Trump’s lawyers that his busy schedule leading into the 2024 election season while already battling a state indictment out of New York — to which he’s pleaded not guilty — gives reason to postpone.
“Many indicted defendants have demanding jobs that require a considerable amount of their time and energy, or a significant amount of travel,” Harbach wrote. “The Speedy Trial Act contemplates no such factor as a basis for a continuance, and the Court should not indulge it here.”
It’s not clear when Cannon will ultimately rule on the competing motions on setting a trial date.
Both Trump’s attorneys and the special counsel’s office are set to appear in court on Tuesday for a hearing related to the handling of classified information in order to move forward in the case.
In a court filing late Monday night, Trump’s lawyers had called for a lengthy delay of his trial, suggesting it would not be possible to try the case prior to the 2024 election next November.
“Based on the extraordinary nature of this action, there is most assuredly no reason for any expedited trial, and the ends of justice are best served by a continuance,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
As a result, they wrote, “The Court should, respectfully, before establishing any trial date, allow time for development of further clarity as to the full nature and scope of the motions that will be filed, a better understanding of a realistic discovery and pre-trial timeline, and the completion of the security clearance process.”
Trump pleaded not guilty last month to the 37 counts he faces in the federal case. Separately, he faces 34 charges in the New York case in connection with money paid to an adult film actress during the 2016 election.
Trump has denounced Smith’s probe as a political witch hunt.
Smith defended his work last month, saying, “This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida, and I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.”
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