Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s office have accused former President Donald Trump’s legal team of seeking to manipulate the courts in their bid to delay his trials past the 2024 presidential election.
Fresh off a Florida hearing where Trump appeared to gain traction in his effort to delay one of his criminal trials, his attorneys asked Wednesday night for a second trial he faces next year in Washington, DC, to be put on hold.
But Trump’s emboldened attempts to delay facing federal juries – on his national security records mishandling and 2020 election cases – while he is running for president were quickly called out by prosecutors who accuse him of manipulating the courts.
“Defendant Trump’s actions in the hours following the hearing … confirm his overriding interest in delaying both trials at any cost. This Court should [not] allow itself to be manipulated in this fashion,” the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday with Judge Aileen Cannon in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Trump has long wanted to prevent his criminal trials from happening before the election next year, and his attorneys in recent days have emphasized that their work on the cases and other legal matters for the ex-president require more time.
Currently, the 2020 election federal trial is set to begin in early March, and the Florida documents case is set to go to trial in late May.
In a filing Wednesday night, Trump’s team asked federal Judge Tanya Chutkan to pause the entirety of his DC criminal case related to his attempts to block the transfer of power in 2020. His attorneys argued that he should not face trial while the court considers his bid to dismiss the case because, they say, he is immune from prosecution for actions he took around the election while serving as president.
The request may be a long-shot before Chutkan of the DC federal District Court, who has indicated she wants the March trial date to hold. But it could lead to appeals.
“As President Trump should not be required to endure ‘the burden of defending [himself],’ or the ‘other burdens of litigation,’ ‘[u]ntil this threshold immunity question is resolved,’ the Court should stay this matter, including all applicable deadlines, pending resolution of the Immunity Motion,” Trump’s legal team wrote their filing.
Prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s office – which is prosecuting both federal cases against Trump – seized on Trump’s request in DC as they argued to keep the Florida federal trial in the spring.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Cannon, the judge in Florida overseeing Trump’s documents case, appeared inclined to push back dates, after Trump’s lawyers highlighted how burdened they were with his trial preparation in the other federal case.
Justice Department prosecutor Jay Bratt alerted Cannon in Florida early Thursday morning that Trump’s lawyers asked that the 2020 election case in Washington, DC, be put on hold.
Neither judge has said if Trump’s federal trial dates will stay as is.