DOJ Says Trump’s Proposed 2026 Trial Date ‘Exaggerates’ Case Difficulty

DOJ Says Trump’s Proposed 2026 Trial Date ‘Exaggerates’ Case Difficulty
Special counsel Jack Smith speaks to the press at the Department of Justice building in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Special counsel Jack Smith pushed back against former President Donald Trump’s request that trial begin in April 2026, saying “the defendant cites inapposite statistics and cases, overstates the amount of new and non-duplicative discovery, and exaggerates the challenge of reviewing it effectively.”

Lawyers for President Trump had objected to Mr. Smith’s proposal of a Jan. 2, 2024, trial date, filing a motion that claimed the Department of Justice’s “objective” was “to deny President Trump and his counsel a fair ability to prepare for trial.” One of the reasons provided was the 11.5 million pages that had already been provided by Mr. Smith’s office, which they say is equivalent to “the entirety of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, cover to cover, 78 times a day, every day, from now until jury selection,” or 99,762 pages per day.

Other reasons included President Trump’s busy legal calendar as he faces three other criminal trials that were brought against him this year, and the complex nature of the case.

The DOJ filed a response on Aug. 21, claiming a 2026 start date would “deny the public its right to a speedy trial” (pdf).

The trial date will be set by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, at a hearing on Aug. 28.

President Trump was charged by the DOJ in Washington with four counts regarding his actions in challenging the 2020 elections results. This is the second of two criminal cases brought against him by Mr. Smith, who is also overseeing a case against him in Florida over allegedly mishandling classified materials kept at Mar-a-Lago.

NTD Photo
Former President Donald Trump leaves the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Discovery

The DOJ claims that despite the volume of documents, about 65 percent of the first batch are documents President Trump already had access to, and 25 percent came from entities associated with President Trump. It notes in its filing that the most important documents were turned over in the first batch, and on Aug. 19 a second, smaller batch of 615,000 pages were sent over, 20 percent of which were records from an entity associated with President Trump.

These documents include President Trump’s own tweets, Truth Social posts, court papers, campaign statements, “hundreds of thousands of other pages [that] came from the National Archives,” and nearly 1 million pages from House committee investigations related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol protest. It also includes 100,000 pages that are duplicates, “because the Government sought to produce it in an exceptionally organized, clear, and user-friendly fashion.”

The DOJ files were given to President Trump’s team via a document review database, meant to be reviewed electronically rather than physically and manually, and this cuts down on the time that President Trump’s lawyers claim they need, Mr. Smith argues. The database allows for keyword searches, user-tagging, and filtering.

“The defendant can, should, and apparently will adopt the benefits of electronic review to reduce the volume of material needed to be searched and manually reviewed,” the filing reads.

“The burden of reviewing discovery cannot be measured by page count alone, and comparisons to the height of the Washington Monument and the length of a Tolstoy novel are neither helpful nor insightful,” the filing notes, calling the comparisons a “distraction.”

Scheduling

The DOJ argues that scheduling this case around President Trump’s several others is a conflict “easily addressed,” for instance starting a different day of the week than another case, rather than more than a year later.

“The defense points out that the Government’s proposal to start jury selection on Dec. 11, 2023, conflicts with a motions hearing in his criminal case in the Southern District of Florida,” it notes. “The Government now proposes instead that jury selection begin later during the week of December 11 to accommodate the hearing date in the Florida case.”

President Trump’s lawyers had made comparisons of Mr. Smith’s proposed case schedule to other Jan. 6-related case schedules, which they argued ran a median time of 29.4 months. Mr. Smith pointed out time to the completion of sentencing was not the same as time to the beginning of the trial, which could have several months’ difference, and that cases were delayed after the pandemic.

“This small and skewed sample provides no help to the Court in deciding an appropriate trial date,” the filing states. “All of the defendant’s other cited cases included multiple co-defendants—as many as seventeen … The Court should set these inapposite comparisons aside when weighing the individual factors here under the Speedy Trial Act.”

Besides the other case brought by Mr. Smith, President Trump is potentially facing two cases next March: In New York, District Attorney Alvin Bragg is prosecuting a case over allegedly falsifying business records set to go to trial on March 25, 2025. In Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis requested a March 4, 2024, trial date days after the indictment against President Trump and 18 other defendants for alleged racketeering in challenging the state’s 2020 election results.

The Florida case Mr. Smith is prosecuting has a May 2024 trial date.

From The Epoch Times

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