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Justice Dept asks judge in Trump documents case to disregard his motion seeking delay

The Justice Department asked a Florida federal judge Thursday to disregard former President Donald Trump's request for an indefinite delay in the federal criminal case over his handling of sensitive government records.

"There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none," special counsel Jack Smith argued in his filing.

In an 11-page motion filed in Florida Thursday, Smith pushed back on a claim by Trump's attorneys that going to trial during the 2024 presidential election would risk the viability of a fair jury selection process. 

Prosecutors said there was "no reason to credit the claim," arguing that "the Government readily acknowledges that jury selection here may merit additional protocols (such as a questionnaire) and may be more time-consuming than in other cases, but those are reasons to start the process sooner rather than later."

Judge Aileen Cannon has set a trial date for Aug. 14, but prosecutors have asked to postpone until December. Trump's legal team argued Monday night that neither timeline is acceptable, but did not suggest a different start date. Late Monday night, Trump attorneys argued in a filing that his trial should not take place as scheduled, and potentially not until after the election. 

Defense attorneys have accused the government of trying to "expedite" Trump's trial, though it was Cannon who set the Aug. 14 trial date. Smith also addressed the defense's accusation by saying they have it "exactly wrong." 

"A speedy trial is a foundational requirement of the Constitution and the United States Code, not a Government preference that must be justified," Smith wrote. He noted that under the law, "any deviation from its 70-day benchmark must be justified," that is, it is the defendant's right to have a speedy trial within 70 days of arraignment. 

In Thursday's filing, the government also asked Judge Aileen Cannon to proceed with jury selection on Dec 11, 2023.

Also among the reasons Trump's attorneys cited in support of a delay was the volume of discovery that has been turned over by the government, stating that they have already received 428,300 records and nine months' worth of CCTV footage from the government. 

The special counsel pointed out, "Although the Government's production included over 800,000 pages, the set of 'key' documents was only about 4,500 pages.'" And Smith called the claim about "'nine months of CCTV footage'" "misleading," explaining that "the Government obtained footage only from selected cameras (many of which do not continuously record) from selected dates throughout the period for which it obtained footage."

Trump's attorneys had also claimed that the statute under which he was charged, the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), creates several complexities, and they lack defense counsel with security clearances to review classified information. 

The special counsel pointed out that the government would have made the first set of classified information available on July 10, if the defense counsel had obtained security clearances. But in order to receive the interim clearance, counsel would have had to fill out and submit the necessary forms. By Thursday, only two "have completed this task." Smith noted that the court's deadline for them to do this is Thursday.

Smith also disclosed that some of the classified materials and witness statements containing classified information will be sent to a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) in Miami "early next week," so they may be reviewed by defense attorneys with clearance. Once the defense counsel has final clearances, the rest of the Mar-a-Lago documents will also be brought to the Miami SCIF.  

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts related to his alleged mishandling of sensitive government records.

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