NATIONAL NEWS

Justice Department urges judge to not postpone Trump’s classified documents trial

Jul 13, 2023, 2:49 PM | Updated: 5:40 pm

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Tuesda...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Tuesday, June 13, 2023, after pleading not guilty in a Miami courtroom earlier in the day to dozens of felony counts that he hoarded classified documents and refused government demands to give them back. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department urged a judge Thursday to reject Donald Trump’s efforts to postpone his classified documents trial, saying there was no basis for an “open-ended” delay sought by the former president’s lawyers.

Federal prosecutors 37 felony counts related to the mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, though the actual date will be up to the judge.

Trump’s lawyers countered this week with a request for an indefinite delay. They did not propose a specific date but said the case concerned novel legal issues, and that proceeding with a trial within six months was “unreasonable” and would “result in a miscarriage of justice.”

On Thursday, prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith’s team responded by asking U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to not postpone the trial beyond the December date they recommended.

They rejected the idea that any of the legal arguments the defense intends to raise requires the trial to be delayed. They said they’ve already turned over significant amounts of evidence, including grand jury transcripts and unclassified witness statements, and that in the next week they will produce additional witness statements for interviews conducted through June 23 — or two weeks after the indictment was returned.

Though the defense lawyers had said a continuance was necessary because they hadn’t yet received classified evidence, prosecutors noted that as of Thursday afternoon, only two of the attorneys on record had submitted an application for a security clearance that even would enable them to access such evidence. Later Thursday, Trump’s lawyers submitted a filing stating, “Counsel has completed all outstanding applicant tasks required to obtain the requisite security clearances in this matter with one exception.”

Defense lawyers had also argued that Trump’s busy campaign schedule in pursuit of the 2024 Republican nomination needed to be taken into account in scheduling a trial. But prosecutors said that, too, was not a basis for an indefinite delay.

“Many indicted defendants have demanding jobs that require a considerable amount of their time and energy, or a significant amount of travel,” they wrote.

The Justice Department also disputed the suggestion that an impartial jury could not be selected before the election.

“Our jury system relies on the Court’s authority to craft a thorough and effective jury selection process, and on prospective jurors’ ability and willingness to decide cases based on the evidence presented to them, guided by legal instructions from the Court,” the prosecutors wrote.

“To be sure,” they added, “the Government readily acknowledges that jury selection here may merit additional protocols (such as a questionnaire) and may be more time-consuming than in other cases, but those are reasons to start the process sooner rather than later.”

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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Justice Department urges judge to not postpone Trump’s classified documents trial