The Justice Department on Thursday pleaded with a judge to reject efforts by former President Donald Trump’s legal team to indefinitely delay his classified documents trial because of the 2024 Republican presidential candidate’s busy campaign schedule, among other reasons.
“There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none,” prosecutors working for Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote to US District Judge Aileen Cannon.
Smith’s team argues that a proposed Dec. 11 trial for the 77-year-old former president, who is charged with 37 felony counts related to the mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, is fair and more than enough time for an impartial jury to be found and for Trump’s legal team to obtain necessary security clearances.
“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, 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,” they argue.
The DOJ lawyers note that as of Thursday afternoon — a month after Trump’s arraignment in Miami — “only two counsel of record” for Trump have submitted the necessary paperwork to obtain security clearances needed to view the approximately 340 documents bearing classification markings that the government will use as evidence against Trump.
“The Government’s first tranche of classified discovery will include all documents with classification markings recovered from Mar-a-Lago to which counsel’s interim clearances will permit them access. This represents the large majority of the classified records from Mar-a-Lago. The Government also plans to produce a small number of witness statements and memorialization of those statements that contain classified information. The Government intends to transport these materials early next week to the sensitive compartmented information facility (‘SCIF’) maintained for cleared defense attorneys at the C. Clyde Atkins Courthouse in Miami,” the prosecutors explained.
“Once defense counsel have their final clearances, the Government will bring the remaining Mar-a-Lago documents to the SCIF in Miami as well as other materials,” they wrote, adding that “neither the amount of classified discovery in this case nor the timetable for its production is a reason for an indefinite continuance of the trial date.”
The DOJ also shot back at Trump’s legal team’s contention that the 2024 presidential front-runner’s schedule makes it “nearly impossible to prepare for this trial by December 2023.”
“The demands of Defendants’ professional schedules do not provide a basis to delay trial in this case. Many indicted defendants have demanding jobs that require a considerable amount of their time and energy, or a significant amount of travel,” Smith’s team argues.
“Nothing about defense counsel’s trial schedules justifies the extraordinary continuance they seek,” they add.