Trump Lawyers Push to Delay Classified Documents Case Due to ‘Hush-Money’ Trial

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Saturday argued the documents case should be postponed.

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Saturday argued that his Florida classified documents case should be postponed because he’s scheduled to be in New York for a separate trial for the next several weeks.

“President Trump has a constitutional right to be present at the trial in New York and, as a result, cannot participate in this work relating to important parts of his defense,” President Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon.

They added that “critical members” of his legal team in Florida, Emil Bove and Todd Blanche, are also the lead counsel in the New York case, adding that Mr. Bove is “principally responsible for all classified” litigation in the documents case.

The New York trial for President Trump, in which he’s accused of falsifying business records during the 2016 presidential campaign, is expected to last about eight weeks. State law mandates that a defendant who is on trial has to appear in the court, meaning the former president will be in a Manhattan courthouse five days a week for the next two months or so.

President Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of knowingly retaining secret records related to the U.S. national defense and obstructing efforts by the U.S. government to retrieve them. He’s said it’s part of a longstanding effort to denigrate his political chances ahead of the 2024 election.

Earlier this month, Judge Cannon had signaled an openness to the former president’s defense claims in a sign that prosecutors might face a difficult road ahead. It came as special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the classified documents prosecution, was critical of the judge’s rules on jury instructions, saying that a key argument advanced by President Trump’s team regarding the Presidential Records Act was invalid.

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At issue in Judge Cannon’s recent order is the former president’s claim that he treated the documents as personal under a 1978 law that allows former presidents to keep records that have no connection to their official responsibilities.

His lawyers argue his decision to keep the records shows that he deemed them to be his personal property. Prosecutors have said the documents could not be construed as personal because they relate to U.S. intelligence and military matters, and that the records law could not authorize the former president to keep classified papers.

A trial date in the case uncertain. Judge Cannon has not yet ruled on competing proposals from President Trump and prosecutors to delay the currently scheduled May 20 trial until later this summer.

The judge has signaled support for some of the former president’s other arguments, including his request for more records from the Biden administration to attempt to build a case that the investigation was politically motivated.

However, she has repeatedly rejected attempts by the former president to dismiss the case. Last month, Judge Cannon rejected an attempt to invalidate the central charge against him of willfully retaining classified information.

New York Trial Starts

Jury selection starts Monday in the New York trial, making it the first criminal trial ever of a former U.S. president. It will also limit the 45th president’s schedule while he campaigns for reelection in 2024, although he is expected to speak to reporters before and after court appearances.

On Saturday, the former president said during a campaign event in Pennsylvania that “I will be forced to sit fully gagged“ and won’t ”be allowed to talk.”

“They want to take away my constitutional right to talk,” said President Trump, who has been barred by Judge Merchan from speaking about possible witnesses or jurors in the case.

But on Saturday, President Trump targeted his former lawyer and central witness Michael Cohen, who had served months in a federal prison on campaign finance violations and other charges. “Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING?” he wrote.

Former President Donald Trump sits with his lawyer Susan Necheles, in the courtroom at a hearing in his criminal case on charges stemming from hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, n New York City, on March 25, 2024. (Brendan McDermid/Pool via Reuters)
Former President Donald Trump sits with his lawyer Susan Necheles, in the courtroom at a hearing in his criminal case on charges stemming from hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, n New York City, on March 25, 2024. (Brendan McDermid/Pool via Reuters)

“There is NO WAY I can be given a Fair (Biden) Trial on Monday with Judge Juan Merchan, who is totally conflicted and corrupt, presiding,” he wrote Saturday.

A March 26 order prevents President Trump from making public statements about witnesses concerning their potential testimony and about prosecutors, court staff,  and their family members if those statements are meant to interfere with the case.

On April 1, the New York judge extended the gag order to cover his own family members and family members of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office charged the former president. The order does not restrict President Trump’s statements about Judge Merchan and Mr. Bragg.

The former president’s lawyers had urged the court not to impose the gag order, arguing his political opponents had attacked him based on the case and that he should have a right to respond.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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