WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump asked a federal judge Thursday to put off until 2026 a trial in Washington on charges that the former president plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The suggested April 2026 date is a counterproposal to the Justice Department's recommendation last week that the trial should begin Jan. 2, 2024. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is expected to oppose the Trump team’s request, which seeks to put off his trial until nearly a year and a half after the 2024 presidential election, in which Trump is currently the early front-runner for the Republican nomination.
The question is ultimately up to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is expected to set at least a tentative trial date during an Aug. 28 court hearing.
In a court filing Thursday evening, Trump's lawyers say the years-long delay is warranted because of the “massive” amount of information — prosecutors have already produced more than 11.5 million pages — they have to review and because of scheduling conflicts with the other criminal cases Trump is facing.
As it stands, they said they would have to review about 100,000 pages per day in order to meet the Justice Department's proposed date for jury selection.
“If we were to print and stack 11.5 million pages of documents, with no gap between pages, at 200 pages per inch, the result would be a tower of paper stretching nearly 5,000 feet into the sky. That is taller than the Washington Monument, stacked on top of itself eight times, with nearly a million pages to spare,” the defense lawyers wrote.
They also contend that the case concerns unprecedented questions that will take time to sort out. A four-count indictment issued this month, with charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, accuses Trump of working to subvert the results of the election in a futile attempt to cling to power.
“No president has ever been charged with a crime for conduct committed while in office. No major party presidential candidate has ever been charged while in the middle of a campaign — and certainly not by a Justice Department serving his opponent,” the lawyers wrote. “These and numerous other issues will be questions of first impression, requiring significant time for the parties to consider and brief, and for the Court to resolve.”
Trump's 2024 calendar is expected to be packed with court dates and campaign appearances.
He is confronting both a presidential primary season and four criminal cases in four different cities. Next March 25, he is set for trial in a New York state case related to an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, where Trump was charged earlier this week with scheming to undo the results of that state's presidential election, have proposed a March 4 trial date — though that is likely to slip given the complexity of a sprawling racketeering case that involves 19 defendants.
And a federal judge in Florida has set a May 20 trial date on charges, also brought by Smith and his team, that Trump illegally hoarded classified documents and concealed them from investigators.
“President Trump must prepare for each of these trials in the coming months. All are independently complex and will require substantial work to defend. Several will likely require President Trump’s presence at some or all trial proceedings,” the defense lawyers wrote, adding that the cases would involve pre- and post-trial hearings that will conflict with prosecutors' proposed trial calendar.
Meanwhile on Thursday night, Trump said he was canceling plans for a press conference next week to unveil what he claims is new evidence of fraud in the 2020 election in Georgia, citing the advice of lawyers.
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Eric Tucker, The Associated Press