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Trump says he’s too busy campaigning to go to trial for his alleged crimes

A new filing by the former president’s lawyers asks to delay his trial for mishandling classified documents until after the 2024 election.

By Matt Cohen - July 13, 2023
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The indictment against former President Donald Trump and Walt Nauta is photographed on June 9, 2023.
The indictment against former President Donald Trump and Walt Nauta is photographed on June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

Lawyers for Donald Trump have asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to delay the trial of the former president on charges of mishandling classified documents because he’ll be too busy campaigning for the 2024 election.

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s lawyers filed a motion for a continuance on July 10. The filing argues that because of the unprecedented nature of the charges — along with Trump’s busy schedule as the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president — the presiding judge should not set a date for the trial until after the election.

A grand jury indicted Trump on June 9 on 37 charges related to boxes of allegedly classified documents that he illegally took from the White House to his private residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The charges Trump faces include mishandling classified documents, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements.

“This extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing. “The Court now presides over a prosecution advanced by the administration of a sitting President against his chief political rival, himself a leading candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Therefore, a measured consideration and timeline that allows for a careful and complete review of the procedures that led to this indictment and the unprecedented legal issues presented herein best serves the interests of the Defendants and the public.”

Trump’s legal team says that because he is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, his campaign schedule will make him too busy to prepare for a criminal trial. Because of his schedule, they want to delay the trial until after the election.

Lawyers for the defense and the prosecution are planning to meet on July 18 to discuss various aspects of the trial, including a trial date. Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the federal prosecution of the former president previously proposed that the trial take place in December. Currently a trial date is set for August, but according to the Washington Post, that’s merely a placeholder. It’s common practice for a judge to set a trial date soon after an indictment is handed down, the Post reported.

“This case is not so unusual or complex … because it has only two defendants, involves straightforward theories of liability, and does not present novel questions of fact or law,” Smith wrote in an earlier filing.

Trump has proclaimed his innocence, repeatedly claiming falsely that his alleged actions are protected by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government accountability and ethics watchdog group, pointed out that nothing in the PRA justifies his mishandling of classified documents. According to CREW, all presidential records are public property and must be preserved; by shredding certain documents and refusing to hand over boxes of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, Trump violated the law.

“Donald Trump compromised the security of the United States and put his own interests ahead of keeping Americans safe,” CREW president Noah Bookbinder said in a statement at the time of Trump’s indictment. “By bringing these charges against a former president, Special Counsel Jack Smith showed that no one is above the law.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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