The Mercury News Weekend

Trump's lawyers lash out over the timing of his federal trials

- By Alan Feuer

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump lashed out at special counsel Jack Smith on Wednesday, accusing his office of violating Trump's due process rights by seeking to obtain a guilty verdict against him before Election Day in the two federal cases he is facing “no matter the cost.”

The comments were contained in court papers in which the lawyers reasserted their request to delay, until after the 2024 election, Trump's trial in Florida on charges of mishandlin­g classified documents.

In some of the strongest language he has used so far, Christophe­r Kise, a lawyer for Trump, assailed the special counsel's office for opposing his attempts to delay the documents trial. Kise said in the filing that the proceeding, which is set to start in May, could conflict with Trump's other federal trial. In that trial, which is scheduled to begin in March in Washington, the former president stands accused of three conspiraci­es to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Kise all but asserted that the twin prosecutio­ns had been filed against Trump in an effort to cripple his chances of being reelected.

“The fact that they continue to contend that it is appropriat­e and not a violation of President Trump's due process rights to push forward with back-to-back multi-month trials in different districts with wholly different facts — over a defendant's objection — reveals a central truth about these cases,” Kise wrote. “The special counsel's office is engaged in a reckless effort to try to obtain a conviction of President Trump prior to the 2024 election, no matter the cost.”

The filing was the third round of dueling court papers concerning the request to delay the documents trial — a strategy that Trump has pursued almost from the moment he was first indicted in the case.

The indictment accused the former president of illegally holding on to more than 30 classified documents after he left office and then conspiring with aides at Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida, to obstruct the government's repeated efforts to reclaim them.

Last week, Trump's legal team sought to dismiss the indictment in the election interferen­ce case by arguing that Trump enjoyed absolute immunity against any criminal charges related to his official duties as president.

On Tuesday, prosecutor­s asked Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing that case, for a formal order that would force Trump to tell them whether he intends to defend himself by blaming the stable of lawyers around him at the time for giving him poor legal advice.

And early next week, Trump's lawyers will square off against Smith's prosecutor­s before Chutkan at a hearing to decide whether she will impose a gag order on Trump to restrict his public comments about people involved in the election interferen­ce case.

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