Ex-Mueller prosecutor warns Trump’s NY trial stunt may backfire as he runs to Judge Cannon for delay

Trump may have also run afoul of a judge in a separate lawsuit after leaving court early on Wednesday

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published October 5, 2023 9:18AM (EDT)

Former US president Donald Trump leaves the court room of the State Supreme court on the first day of his civil fraud trial on October 2, 2023 in New York City. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Former US president Donald Trump leaves the court room of the State Supreme court on the first day of his civil fraud trial on October 2, 2023 in New York City. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked the federal judge overseeing his Mar-a-Lago criminal case to delay the trial until after the 2024 election, arguing that he has not received all of the records his legal team needs to review.

The former president's legal team in a motion asked Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to delay the trial until "at least mid-November 2024," claiming "discovery failures" by special counsel Jack Smith's office.

Trump's attorneys wrote that Smith's office vowed that "all" discovery would be available on "day one" but prosecutors still have not turned over all of the documents. The lawyers also cited the schedule in Trump's D.C. criminal case, arguing that the dueling legal battles "currently require President Trump and his lawyers to be in two places at once."

"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," Trump attorneys Chris Kise and Todd Blanche wrote in the filing.

Some legal experts criticized the request.

"Nothing is stopping him from going to DC. He wants a delay because it's not convenient for him right now," tweeted national security attorney Bradley Moss.

Attorney George Conway called the request "absurd."

"You could have teams of defense lawyers and experts review those documents until the end of time and it wouldn't matter one whit to the outcome of the case," he wrote.

Smith's team last week argued that Trump's lawyers were seeking unreasonable delays in the case, arguing that despite a "slightly longer than anticipated time frame" to complete certain steps it was false to accuse them of delaying the production of discovery materials. The prosecutors noted that Trump's lawyers had lacked the "necessary read-ins to review all material" provided by the government.

Prosecutors said they have already turned over 1.28 million pages of unclassified documents and most of the classified evidence. The DOJ expects to turn over much of the outstanding classified evidence on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

"This production will include certain materials that Defendants have described as outstanding, including audio recordings of interviews and information related to the classification reviews conducted in the case," prosecutors wrote.

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Trump has repeatedly sought to delay his trials past the 2024 election as he reportedly seeks to shut down his prosecutions if he wins the presidency. Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing, has argued that the prosecutions amount to "election interference" even as he took time off the campaign trail to campaign in court during his New York fraud trial this week. New York Attorney General Letitia James blasted Trump's appearance and outbursts at the courthouse as a "fundraising stop."

Former federal prosecutor and New York University Law Prof. Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller's team, warned that Trump's courthouse campaigning could come back to bite him in his other cases.

"He is making the trials the centerpiece of his political candidacy," MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace told Weissmann on Wednesday.

"Well, I don't think he's going to do very well with the current motions that he has made in D.C. and in Florida, where he is seeking more time in what the government has said is a transparent effort to ultimately have the trial dates put off," Weissmann replied.

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"I don't think it's going to play well when people see that he has ample time to engage in other activities other than preparing for trial," he added. "Judge Chutkan in the D.C. case has already made it quite clear that whatever his extracurricular activities are… there is a criminal case and that is going to go forward the way it would for anyone else."

Trump was in court Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday after successfully getting a delay from a judge for a deposition in a civil lawsuit he brought against former attorney Michael Cohen, alleging the former fixer violated contracts and confidentiality.

"Plaintiff represented that, now that pretrial rulings have been entered in the case that materially altered the landscape, it was imperative that he attend his New York trial in person — at least for each day of the first week of trial when many strategy judgments had to be made," Judge Edwin Torres wrote in a decision last week.

Cohen told Meidas Touch on Wednesday that his attorney would inform a federal judge that Trump left the trial early, which could be a violation of the order.

"Part of the order...is that Donald on the 9th of October, just a couple of days from now, is required to return to NY in order to give the deposition," Cohen told the outlet. "I do believe it is incumbent upon my counsel to notify the court exactly what has transpired."

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.

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

Aggregate Aileen Cannon Arthur Engoron Donald Trump Jack Smith Letitia James Michael Cohen Politics