Defense team in Trump documents case score early win with delay to hearing on classified materials procedures

 July 12, 2023

The first major hearing in former President Donald Trump's classified documents case was set to be held on Friday, July 14, to discuss and clarify procedures for handling classified information going forward.

That hearing has now been delayed until Tuesday, July 18, following a request from Trump's co-defendant, Walt Nauta, due to a scheduling conflict and other issues with his defense attorneys, the Washington Examiner reported.

Special Counsel Jack Smith's team of prosecutors initially opposed any sort of delay to the hearing previously scheduled for Friday as being "unnecessary" but ultimately agreed with defense attorneys on the July 18 date.

Pre-trial procedural hearing delayed until next week

On Tuesday, District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by former President Trump in 2020, issued an order to set the date of July 18 for a conference hearing to discuss the Classified Information Procedures Act that governs how classified materials are handled and disclosed in pre-trial motions, the discovery process, and during the trial itself.

That followed a motion filed by Nauta's primary defense attorney, Washington D.C.-based Stanley Woodyard, who cited the condensed timeline following the June 8 indictment and Nauta's delays in obtaining a Florida-licensed attorney, Sasha Daden, and in not being arraigned until July 6 after two postponements.

Woodyard further pointed to the fact that the delays caused Nauta to be unaware of the imminent hearing, that local counsel Daden was not yet fully up to speed and still lacked the necessary security clearance, and that he himself was already scheduled for a separate bench trial in D.C. that same day.

As noted, the special counsel first objected to the requested delay but, following discussions with the attorneys for both Trump and Nauta, ultimately relented on the matter and agreed to the July 18 date that Judge Cannon then set on the docket.

Trump seeks to delay trial until after election

Meanwhile, just prior to all of that, Politico reported that former President Trump's attorneys asked Judge Cannon to ignore the special counsel's requested start date for the trial in December 2023 and instead argued that the trial should be delayed for more than a year after that, until after the 2024 election had concluded.

On Monday, a motion was filed that outlined several compelling reasons why the classified documents trial should be delayed until after the 2024 election and explained: "This extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy. 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."

Trump's attorneys pointed out that the case involved "significant" legal questions and "issues of first impression" that had never been dealt with before by a court, not to mention the various procedures for handling the purported classified materials in question, to say nothing of a multitude of anticipated pre-trial motions that would eventually be filed -- all of which therefore required additional time for preparation.

The attorneys further argued that a controversial trial held at any point during an election could unfairly prejudice a jury pool, constitute election interference, and present scheduling conflicts in terms of Trump's campaign as well as other previously scheduled trials for both Trump's and Nauta's attorneys.

Post-election delay could conceivably allow Trump to pardon himself or drop charges

Politico noted that the motion did not specify a preferred trial start date, only that it be after the November 2024 election, and observed that the motion aligned with former President Trump's long-favored strategy of seeking incessant delays to legal proceedings.

Left unstated in the motion, but pointed out by Politico, was also a rather significant if still theoretical reason for such a lengthy delay to the trial -- that Trump could make the entire thing go away if he wins the presidency, either by issuing an unprecedented pardon for himself or appointing senior officials to the Justice Department who could drop all charges and end the prosecution.

The outlet noted that this motion for an indefinite delay and how the court rules on it will be viewed by many as the "first significant test" for Judge Cannon, in that due to her connection to Trump she is already under sharp scrutiny for any evidence of bias or favoritism and is facing demands that she recuse herself from the case.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.