Judge Denies Special Counsel’s Request in Trump Case

Judge Denies Special Counsel’s Request in Trump Case
Special Counsel Jack Smith arrives to remarks on a recently unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former President Donald Trump in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, presiding over the case against former President Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents, rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s request to set up a private facility in Washington, D.C., to hold classified documents he is required to turn over to the defendants in discovery.

“The parties are advised that production of classified discovery to defense counsel is deemed timely upon placement in an accredited facility in the Southern District of Florida, not in another federal district,” reads the brief order. “It is the responsibility of the Office of the Special Counsel to make and carry out arrangements to deposit such discovery to defense counsel in this District.”

Judge Cannon has been strict about jurisdiction in this case, after the special counsel revealed that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., was still meeting even after the case was assigned to her court. It is illegal to use a grand jury to produce additional information after a defendant has already been indicted.

Trump attorneys had just recently filed a motion accusing the special counsel’s office of not turning over relevant evidence, asking the court to push back the trial date.

“The Special Counsel’s Office has not provided some of the most basic discovery in the case,” the motion reads. “Given the current schedule, we cannot understate the prejudice to President Trump arising from his lack of access to these critical materials months after they should have been produced.”

Mr. Smith responded in a filing that said there was no “credible” reason to postpone the case, and that they already had access to “considerable” amounts of the material.

President Trump’s legal team had also cited being only able to access the classified documents in the “small, temporary” Florida location as a barrier for the busy candidate who is splitting his time between campaigning and attending a civil trial in New York where he stands to lose Trump Organization.

The complaint they lodged in a motion to push the case back past the 2024 presidential elections may have been part of the special counsel’s office’s motivation for opening a second facility for discovery documents to be reviewed, but Trump attorneys have said the Washington location is also unworkable because documents that need to be reviewed together would then be stored in separate locations.

Jurisdiction Issues

When questioned about why the second, out-of-district grand jury was still in session, Mr. Smith notified the court he had put an end to it.

Just last week, Judge Cannon again admonished prosecutors for relying on information outside her jurisdiction, this time for bringing up a new argument during Garcia hearings and only citing cases outside the 11th District.

During the Oct. 12 hearings, prosecutor David Harbach said that attorneys for President Trump’s co-defendants Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira and butler Waltine Nauta should not be able to question a witness’s character or credibility because of conflicts of interest.

This argument had not been brought up in motions the prosecution filed in asking for a Garcia hearing, which is a hearing to make sure defendants are clear about any potential ramifications of retaining legal counsel who represents or has represented another defendant or witness in the case.

Judge Cannon said the special counsel’s office was “wasting the court’s time” by doing so, and was further frustrated by the fact that Mr. Harbach cited only cases outside the 11th district—three in New York—as support for his argument.

Discovery Documents

The case involves a great number of documents, beyond the ones President Trump is accused of unlawfully retaining in his Mar-a-Lago residence.

President Trump’s legal team had previously noted that they already received 1.28 million pages and did not have sufficient time to properly examine them, requesting an extended timeline. The 1.28 million pages are unclassified documents, and would not need to be reviewed in a special location. They have also been digitized and are searchable.

However, they argued that though the special counsel had said “all” discovery documents would be available on “day one,” they have not turned over all the classified documents and witness statements yet. Even documents that President Trump was indicted for having were not completely supplied, they argued.

The facility set up in the Florida district is merely a temporary one, and the filing states that the secure facility will not be ready for another three months.

Trial Date

Trump attorneys are requesting a “mid-November 2024” trial date or later, hoping to postpone the case until after the presidential elections. The general election takes place on Nov. 5, 2024.

The current trial date is set for May 2024, and his attorneys argue that he already has another federal case beginning in March 2024, incidentally just one day before more than a dozen states begin their Republican primaries. The trials would almost certainly overlap, preventing President Trump from attending both in full.

From The Epoch Times

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