Legal expert: Jack Smith has “very few tools” to prevent Judge Cannon from delaying Trump trial

Donald Trump’s legal team on Wednesday accused special counsel Jack Smith’s office of violating the former president’s due process rights by attempting to pursue both of his federal trials before the 2024 election, The New York Times reported

The lawyers reasserted their request to delay Trump’s trial ​​related to his handling of classified records until after the 2024 election. His team filed a request last week asking U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to postpone the trial until “at least mid-November” of 2024 — after Election Day on Nov. 5.

Christopher Kise, who is representing Trump, strongly criticized the special counsel’s office for opposing his requests to postpone the documents trial. In the Wednesday filing, Kise expressed concerns that the May trial could clash with Trump’s other federal trial, set to begin in March in Washington, where the former president faces accusations of three election-related conspiracies, The Times reported. 

The special counsel’s office continues to maintain that it is “appropriate and not a violation” of Trump’s “due process rights” to push forward back-to-back multi-month trials in different districts, he added.

“The special counsel’s office is engaged in a reckless effort to try to obtain a conviction of President Trump prior to the 2024 election, no matter the cost,” Kise wrote.

While Trump’s counsel argues that Smith committed to “obtaining a conviction” of Trump prior to the 2024 election, it is “clear” that Trump’s strategy has been and will be to delay his federal trials “through extensive pre-trial motion practice at every turn,” Temidayo Aganga-Williams, a white-collar partner at Selendy Gay Elsberg and former senior investigative counsel for the House Jan. 6 committee, told Salon. 

This filing marked the third round of court documents regarding the request for a delay in the documents trial, the Times reported. Trump has been pursuing this strategy since he was initially charged in the case.

He previously asked that the trial be put off indefinitely, as his lawyers worked through complex procedural issues. Their request was denied by Cannon. 

“Trump will continue to file motion after motion, in an attempt to build a record before the court that he can use to argue he is not receiving a fair trial,” Aganga-Williams said. “He is both litigating before the judge but also before the public.”

The indictment alleged that Trump unlawfully retained over 30 classified documents following his departure from the White House and conspired with aides at Mar-a-Lago to impede the government’s repeated attempts to retrieve these documents that contained intelligence on nuclear weapons programs and information on the nation’s defense capabilities. 

The former president has a pattern of pushing to delay his trials. His legal team attempted a similar strategy last week, seeking to slow down the election interference case by arguing that Trump is shielded from criminal prosecution because of “presidential immunity.”

His lawyers contended that the acts he is criminally charged with were part of his official presidential duties rendering him “absolutely immune from prosecution.”

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“Trump is not exercising his right to a speedy trial,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Salon. “On the contrary, his lawyers are saying they need more time to prepare.”

While this may be true since the ex-president is in the middle of a civil trial and fighting four different criminal cases in four different states using many of the same lawyers, the timing issue “may be strategic as well,” he added.

“Trump has a better chance of becoming president again than getting acquitted in the classified documents case,” Rahmani said. “A conviction is also bad for his chances of beating Biden. Voters don’t like a felon.”

Earlier this week, special counsel prosecutors asked Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing his election subversion case, to force Trump to inform them whether he plans to blame his former legal team for providing poor advice to avoid any delays in the trial. 

The formal order would force Trump to inform the prosecutors about his plans by mid-December thereby preventing any disruptions and delays ahead of the trial. 

“It is not surprising that Trump is pursuing an adjournment before Judge Cannon, who has proven herself to be receptive to some of Trump’s complaints, whether those complaints are supported or not,” Aganga-Williams said. “Federal judges have almost absolute control over how fast cases move on their docket.  If Judge Cannon does not want this trial to happen before the election, the special counsel has very few tools to force her to act otherwise.”

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