Special counsel opposes Trump’s effort to delay trial of classified documents until after 2024 election

Special counsel Jack Smith is opposing former President Donald Trump’s request to delay trial over his alleged mishandling of classified documents until after the 2024 election.

In a court filing Thursday, the special counsel’s legal team rejected the defendants’ argument that a fair trial could not be called before the presidential election. Prosecutors cited the 1974 Speedy Trials Act, which says court officials must set trials «as soon as possible», with only limited delays granted in limited circumstances.

«The defendants chide the government for seeking an ‘expedited’ trial, but in doing so they do it exactly the other way around,» wrote assistant special counsel David Harbach. «A speedy trial is a fundamental requirement of the United States Constitution and Code, not a government preference that must be justified.»

Lawyers for Trump and co-defendant Walt Nauta had said in a filing this week that starting the trial in December, the schedule sought by the special counsel, would be «unreasonable, revealing and … would result in judicial error.»

Harbach disputed that characterization Thursday, writing: «There is no factual or legal basis for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open manner, and Defendants provide none.»

Instead, he urged US District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, to set a trial date for December.

Prosecutors from Smith’s office requested last month that Trump’s criminal trial be delayed until December 11. Cannon had initially set a trial date of August 14.

Trump was indicted last month on seven criminal counts alleging he mishandled more than 100 classified documents that were discovered last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

He faces 37 counts tied to allegations that he willfully withheld national defense information, conspired to obstruct justice and made false statements. Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty.

A Trump spokesperson responded to the special counsel’s filing by accusing Smith, the Justice Department and the FBI of election interference.

He said the case «should never go to trial» and should be dismissed based on the Presidential Records Act and other cases, which Trump and his lawyers have held up as key to his defense.

The special counsel’s office argued in Thursday’s filing that such a defense «borders on the frivolous» and does not warrant delaying the court proceedings.

“As to the impact of the Presidential Records Act on this prosecution, any argument that it calls for the dismissal of the Indictment or forms a defense of the charges here borders on frivolity,” Harbach wrote, adding that the Presidential Records Acts “ they are not a criminal charge.” statute, and is in no way intended to address the withholding of national security information.»

“Defendants are, of course, free to make whatever arguments they wish to dismiss the charge, and the government will respond promptly,” Harbach wrote. «But they should not be allowed to point to an unsubstantiated legal argument, call it ‘new’, and then claim that the Court will require indefinite continuation to resolve it.»