Federal Judge Sides With Trump, Allows More Time to File Motions

Federal Judge Sides With Trump, Allows More Time to File Motions
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Rome, Ga., on March 9, 2024. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images)

The federal judge overseeing the Trump classified documents case handed defense lawyers a win on Monday, allowing a 10-day extension to file motions.

In a paperless order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon granted former President Donald Trump a 10-day extension, meaning that he shall file a reply to their pretrial motions by March 24. His lawyers had made the request this week, arguing that they are preparing for a separate criminal trial in New York over state charges that he allegedly falsified business records at the end of the 2016 election.

The former president’s attorneys wrote that both President Trump and his attorneys “are currently preparing for a trial in New York, New York that is scheduled to begin on March 25, 2024, and the need to simultaneously devote attention to that case.

“This matter has been necessitated in part by the discovery violations and strategic scheduling demands of the Special Counsel’s Office that have prejudiced President Trump in multiple respects,” they added.

The lawyers also asked Judge Cannon to grant them more time to prepare for a hearing in the documents case in order to file materials to support multiple previous trial objections. And, according to the lawyers, President Trump needs to travel to Fort Pierce, Florida, for a hearing in the case and needs more time to prepare.

But Jay Bratt, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official who handles certain counterintelligence matters and works under Mr. Smith, filed an objection to the lawyers’ request hours later, saying that “the fact that the defense must travel to Florida for a hearing on Thursday is not unique to those teams and poses no cause for such delay.”

And Mr. Bratt added that the filing from President Trump’s attorneys on Monday is a last-minute attempt to delay the case.

“The briefing schedule has been in place for months. Only now, on the eve of the reply deadline, does the defense complain that it needs more time—mostly based on circumstances about which they have been aware throughout the pendency of their motions,” the DOJ official wrote Monday.

Trial Date

During a recent court hearing in Florida, federal prosecutors asked Judge Cannon to schedule the Trump documents trial for July, while the former president’s lawyers argued that it should be held off until after the November election. The judge didn’t set a date but appeared to shoot down the July suggestion.

The case had been scheduled to reach trial on May 20, but Judge Cannon signaled months ago that she intended to reconsider that date.

President Trump is facing 40 federal charges for alleged mishandling of sensitive and classified materials that were obtained from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after he left the White House in 2021. Officials have also accused him for obstructing attempts to get them returned to the federal government.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying the charges are an attempt to to interfere in the 2024 election while he is the leading Republican presidential candidate. He also faces charges in New York City, Washington, and Georgia and has pleaded not guilty in those cases.

On March 25, he is scheduled to go to trial over claims that he falsified business records to provide adult film actress Stormy Daniels with “hush money” payments. Prosecutors in New York City allege that his campaign falsified business records to cover up the payments, which President Trump has denied. He also denied having an alleged affair with Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Judge Allows Amicus Briefs

Last week, Judge Cannon issued a paperless order to allow two amicus briefs, known as “friend of the court” briefs, to be filed to support President Trump’s case. One was written by a former U.S. attorney general, Edwin Meese, and the other was submitted by a group headed by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller.

“The Court has reviewed the motions and finds that the proposed amici bring to the Court’s attention relevant matter that may be of considerable help to the Court in resolving the cited pretrial motions,” Judge Cannon wrote in her order, referring to the two motions. “The amicus briefs are accepted for Court consideration.”

Mr. Meese’s brief argued that current Attorney General Merrick Garland improperly appointed Mr. Smith to be special counsel in the two cases, arguing that only Congress can appoint such officials.

Those arguments have been rejected by the special counsel in a separate Trump case, while Mr. Garland in 2023 said that he had the constitutional authority to do so.

“Neither Smith nor the position of Special Counsel under which he purportedly acts meets those criteria. He wields tremendous power, answerable to no one,” Mr. Meese and two law professors wrote. “And that is a serious problem for the rule of law—whatever one may think of former President Trump or the conduct Smith challenges in the underlying case.”

From The Epoch Times

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