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Trump in court for documents trial scheduling hearing as attorneys push for delay past 2024 election



Former President Donald Trump was back in court Friday morning — this time in South Florida — as his attorneys push for his trial on federal criminal charges of unlawfully retaining national security documents to be held after the 2024 election.

Trump, 77, was greeted by a crowd of supporters outside the Fort Pierce courthouse at around 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the hearing before US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who will decide whether to accept proposed trial dates submitted by the former president’s defense team and special counsel Jack Smith.

On Thursday, Smith filed a motion requesting a July 8 trial start, while Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise asked in a subsequent filing for proceedings to begin on Aug. 12.

Blanche and Kise wrote that Smith’s proposed trial date for their client, the current 2024 GOP frontrunner, would violate a Justice Department policy that prohibits a special counsel from taking “actions that may have an impact on an election.”

Former President Donald Trump arrived for a scheduling hearing Friday morning in Fort Pierce, Fla., as his attorneys push for his trial date on federal criminal charges for retaining classified documents to be held after the 2024 election. ERIC HASERT/TCPALM / USA TODAY NETWORK

They referenced a 2018 report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General that cited “a general principle of avoiding interference in elections” — a norm much discussed during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Following the 2020 election, the attorneys added, deputy special counsel J.P. Cooney was also “seeking to forestall valid investigations of election fraud” due to the “longstanding policy of non-interference in elections.”

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump stand outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse. Getty Images
Trump supporters are seen outside the courthouse in Florida. Getty Images
Trump, 77, was greeted by a crowd of supporters outside the courthouse around 9:30 a.m., a half hour before his hearing. Getty Images
Trump’s attorneys argued that a July 8 trial date would “rush” proceedings and “a fair trial” could not really be held until after the 2024 presidential election. AP

Blanche and Kise argued that a July 8 trial date would “rush” proceedings and “a fair trial” could not really be held until after the 2024 vote, as the former president faces other criminal trials and potential ballot disqualification in several states.

Smith indicted Trump and his valet Walt Nauta in June 2023 for allegedly conspiring to retain classified material at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office — and later lying to his own attorneys and federal authorities who sought them.

The following month, the special counsel indicted the Palm Beach, Fla., resort’s property manager, Carlos de Oliveira, for attempting to delete security camera footage of he and Nauta moving boxes of classified documents to a storage room.

Smith indicted Trump and his valet Walt Nauta in June 2023 for allegedly conspiring to retain classified material at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office. AP

Trump’s attorneys also asked Cannon to hear their motion to dismiss the case entirely on the grounds of presidential immunity — a defense the former president also made in his 2020 election interference case in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, Trump scored a win when the Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments following an appeal on those grounds in April, further delaying Smith’s push for a trial of the former president in DC.

“The Justices’ anticipated ruling will provide guidance as Your Honor evaluates President Trump’s motion to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity,” Blanche and Kise wrote to Cannon in their filing.

Trump’s attorneys also asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon to hear their motion to dismiss the case entirely on the grounds of presidential immunity.

“President Trump respectfully submits that all of these considerations are relevant as the Court considers proposed schedules for the remainder of this unlawful case.”

Friday’s hearing with Cannon was expected to cover issues related to jury selection, the disclosure or non-disclosure of classified material as evidence and witness protection efforts as well.

Trump will head to trial on March 25 in Manhattan after District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the former president with business fraud last year for allegedly making “hush money” payments through his legal fixer to an adult film star to keep her quiet about a decade-old affair before the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, the status of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ case against Trump and 18 co-defendants for allegedly interfering in the 2020 election in Georgia remains up in the air, as the Atlanta prosecutor faces a disqualification hearing Friday afternoon.



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