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Trump wants federal criminal trial delayed until after 2024 election

Former president's attorneys argue a trial during the presidential campaign would be unfair

Former President Donald Trump pumps his fist after taking the stage July 8, prior to speaking at a Nevada Volunteer Recruitment Event at Fervent Calvary Chapel Church in Las Vegas.
Former President Donald Trump pumps his fist after taking the stage July 8, prior to speaking at a Nevada Volunteer Recruitment Event at Fervent Calvary Chapel Church in Las Vegas. (Ronda Churchill for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump wants to delay his trial on federal charges of mishandling sensitive documents until after the 2024 election, his attorneys said in a filing Monday night in a Florida federal court.

Trump argued that having to face a jury until before voters have decided next year’s presidential election would limit his ability to get a fair trial.

“Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” the filing said.

Special Counsel John L. “Jack” Smith, the prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to handle the politically explosive criminal investigations of a former president, has requested a December trial.

Trump’s attorneys, and those representing co-defendant and Trump aide Walt Nauta, also argued in filings that the case will involve massive amounts of documents and considerable procedures to prevent sensitive information from being released.

Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, has several scheduling conflicts with other clients he is representing, the filing said. Woodward has four trials in the next few months, including two defendants tied to the Jan. 6 attack and the congressional contempt trial for former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro.

A federal grand jury indicted Trump last month on more than three dozen federal charges related to his retention of classified documents after his presidency, including false statements, concealing government records and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The charges alleged Trump kept documents containing some of the country’s most sensitive secrets, including military plans, nuclear capabilities and intelligence assessments, in locations throughout his Mar-a-Lago club.

Trump has plead not guilty to the charges, accused Smith of indicting him on behalf of President Joe Biden and incorporated that into a narrative of political persecution in his ongoing presidential campaign.

On Tuesday, Judge Aileen Cannon scheduled a July 18 hearing about how to handle classified issues in the case.

The charges are just one of several legal issues into the former president that could drag him into court during the 2024 election, which Monday’s filing argued made it “nearly impossible” for Trump’s team to prepare for a December trial.

In New York, Trump faces two legal threats. The first is an October trial in a civil suit from state Attorney General Letitia James, which alleges pervasive fraud in Trump’s businesses.

The second is more than 30 charges of falsifying business records as part of a plan during his 2016 presidential campaign to pay off two women who claimed they had sex with him. That case is scheduled for a March 2024 trial.

Fulton County, Ga., prosecutor Fani Willis has indicated she may bring charges against Trump in August tied to his effort to overturn his loss in the state in 2020. According to the Associated Press, a grand jury that began sitting Tuesday could soon decide on charges against Trump in the case.

Smith is also still supervising a grand jury probe in Washington that includes Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

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