Special Counsel Smith asks Trump trial be delayed until December; Trump attorneys could ask for further delay

 June 27, 2023

In the prosecution of former President Donald Trump by Special Counsel Jack Smith over his alleged unlawful retention of government documents after leaving the White House, presiding U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had initially set a tentative trial start date of August 14.

On Friday, Special Counsel Smith filed a motion with the court which sought to delay that trial start date until at least mid-December, among other requests, according to The New York Times.

The request for a delay in the trial start date by the special counsel was not unusual or unexpected, as the August start date set by Judge Cannon had been widely viewed as little more than an initial placeholder on the case docket, nor does it appear that the motion is opposed -- at least not yet -- by Trump defense attorneys.

Smith requests delay in trial start date

The Times noted that Special Counsel Smith's filing made it clear that they still seek a relatively speedy trial in what they view as a case that is not overly "unusual or complex" since it "involves straightforward theories of liability, and does not present novel questions of fact or law."

However, a trial start date of December 11 was requested in order to provide ample time for defense attorneys to obtain necessary security clearances and to review documents turned over in the discovery process, as well as to deal with the particular procedures involved in cases that deal with classified evidence.

The outlet further noted that former President Trump's defense attorneys may actually seek to delay the start of the trial even longer, given Trump's long-held propensity to prolong legal proceedings for as long as possible in hopes of benefiting himself.

Indeed, it is theorized by some that if Trump is able to delay the conclusion of this trial until after the 2024 election, and presuming he wins that election and regains the presidency, he could then instruct his attorney general to drop charges and end the case or, if already found guilty and convicted, issue a pardon for himself.

The Times also reported that Special Counsel Smith filed a separate motion that asked that a list of 84 potential witnesses to be called by the prosecution be filed with the court under seal and kept secret from the public.

Judge sets motion response date, schedules hearing on pre-trial matters

CNN reported that Judge Cannon, in response to Special Counsel Smith's motion filed on Friday to delay the trial until December, issued an order on Monday that set July 6 as the deadline for former President Trump's attorneys to respond to that requested delay.

The outlet noted that per Smith's filing, Trump's attorneys "confirmed they do not oppose an adjournment of the current trial date and request a status hearing with the Court to address the schedule in this action," but also stated that they "anticipate filing an opposition to this motion addressing their objections to the government’s proposed dates."

Judge Cannon's order also set a date of July 14 for a pre-trial hearing to address the classification issues and procedures for how such documents will be handled by both parties in this matter.

Judge rejects request to keep witness list secret

CNN further reported that Judge Cannon separately rejected Special Counsel Smith's request that the witness list be filed under seal -- albeit without prejudice, meaning the request can be refiled -- and, relatedly, also dismissed as moot a motion filed by a coalition of media outlets in opposition to that request for secrecy that they argued violated the First Amendment.

"The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal," the judge wrote.

NBC News, which was one of the outlets involved in the media coalition, reported that the dismissal of the special counsel's request was cheered, and Chuck Tobin, an attorney for the coalition, said in a statement, "We are pleased that the Court recognized the First Amendment requires the government to meet a very high bar to seal any portion of these historic proceedings."

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