WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump, the polling frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, is seeking to delay his federal trial on charges related to his efforts to stop the peaceful transfer of power and retain the White House after his defeat in the 2020 elections.
In a court filing on Thursday, Trump’s lawyers recommended starting the trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors sought to get the trial started.
“This is an unprecedented case in American history. The incumbent administration has targeted its chief political adversary – and leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election – with criminal prosecution,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. . “The administration has poured tens of millions of dollars into this effort, creating a special counsel office with dozens of staff, many of whom are apparently assigned full-time to this case and this case alone.”
“The government’s objective is clear: to deprive President Trump and his attorney of a fair ability to prepare for trial. The Court should deny the government’s request,” they added.
The election interference case brought against Trump in the nation’s capital by Special Counsel Jack Smith is one of four criminal cases Trump currently faces, and one of two brought federally. by Justice Department prosecutors.
In a crowded second-floor courtroom a few hundred yards from the US Capitol, Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to four counts. in the matter: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct official process; obstruction; and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.
US District Judge Tonya Chutkan – who warned Trump that he was a “criminal defendant” who has “restrictions like all other defendants” – had asked each side to offer trial dates.
In a filing last week, Smith’s team asked for jury selection to begin in December and for the trial to begin right after the holidays, Jan. 2, 2024. That date, Senior Assistant Special Counsel Molly Gaston wrote. , “would defend the strength of the public”. the interest in a speedy trial – an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular importance here, where the defendant, a former president, is accused of conspiring to nullify the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, hinder the certification of election results and the reduction of legitimate votes of citizens. »
Chutkan is expected to set a trial date at a hearing on the matter on August 28. Trump is not required to attend the hearing in person.
Trump had telegraphed a plan to delay the trial until after the 2024 election and said he would try to move the case out of Washington, DC, even though that’s where most of his alleged criminal activity took place. occurred. In case after case, federal judges in Washington, including Chutkan, have denied requests by defendants in the Jan. 6 riot to move their cases out of the district.
“Courts routinely find that defendants can receive a fair trial in the place where they committed their crimes, even if some members of the community were victimized,” Chutkan said during a defendant’s trial on May 6. January of last year. Chutkan said she was “not convinced that an impartial jury cannot be assembled here”, saying the legal process would filter out potential jurors who were unable to put their feelings aside.
“In any U.S. jurisdiction, most potential jurors will have heard of the events of January 6, and many will have various disqualifying biases,” she wrote. “The proper way to identify and address such biases is through a careful voir dire which asks, among other things, whether prospective jurors can ‘set aside (their) impression(s) or opinion(s) and render a verdict based on the evidence presented ‘in court.'”