Experts call out Trump lawyers’ “disrespectful” delay tactic — but Judge Chutkan isn’t having it

Judge Tanya Chutkan completely ignored Trump team's request to delay hearing over standard protective order

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 9, 2023 8:52AM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at CPAC on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at CPAC on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing former President Donald Trump's election conspiracy case in D.C., scheduled a Friday hearing to consider prosecutors' request for a protective order blocking him from publicizing evidence in the case.

Prosecutors asked Chutkan, an Obama appointee who has issued the harshest Jan. 6 sentences, to issue a protective order to block Trump and his team from disclosing the government's evidence turned over in discovery. Chutkan on Monday ordered both sides to set a date for a hearing to discuss the matter.

Special counsel Jack Smith's team said in a filing on Tuesday that it was ready to attend a hearing Wednesday, Thursday or Friday but Trump's team responded by seeking to delay the hearing until next week.

Smith's filing said that Trump's team told prosecutors that Trump would not appear at the hearing, after his appearance was waived by the judge, "however, he would like to have both his counsel John Lauro and Todd Blanche at the hearing."

"Blanche is not available on Thursday, since he must appear for a court proceeding in the prosecution against the same defendant, President Trump, by the Special Counsel in [the Southern District of Florida]," the filing said. "Mr. Lauro is available on Thursday, with a preference for an afternoon setting. However, since we lost Friday as an option, we would respectfully request a setting on Monday (after 12:00 pm) or Tuesday (all day) to allow for both Mr. Blanche and Mr. Lauro to be present."

Legal experts scratched their heads at the claim that Friday was "lost" and why Trump needed both lawyers to attend.

"Both of Trump's counsel do not need to appear for this hearing. It's yet another delay tactic," tweeted MSNBC legal analyst Katie Phang, joking that "Trump's lawyers apparently have implemented the 'buddy system' for court appearances in his case."

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller's team, called the Trump's team claim "so disrespectful."

"A criminal case of the utmost seriousness and counsel has time for myriad television interviews. Now cannot find time before Friday for court?" Weissmann tweeted. "And why can't Blanche appear by phone/Zoom on Thursday from FLA; and why do they say they 'lost' Friday?

This is simply goading the court to commit reversible error, fodder for recusal motion, and testing her backbone."

Chutkan on Tuesday ignored the Trump team's complaints and scheduled the hearing for 10 am on Friday.

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"Notably, Judge Chutkan's order doesn't even mention Trump's lawyers' bid to delay the hearing. She just casually — and tacitly — rejects by setting the proceedings before the end of the week, as planned," tweeted Adam Klasfield, a legal reporter at The Messenger.

"Trump counsel simply said Friday is 'lost' but did not say they were unavailable. Good for her; having none of their guff," Weissmann wrote.

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"Judge Chutkan is in charge, and she is making sure everyone knows it. No one cited a Friday conflict, so Friday at 10 it is," wrote MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said she could not believe that "this much time is being spent on an order that's used routinely."

"I'm sure you get the point-Trump's whole strategy is delay & distract," she wrote. "The judge has done a masterful job of creating a record to establish this."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Donald Trump Jack Smith January 6 John Lauro Politics Tanya Chutkan