Special counsel opposes Trump’s effort to delay trial of classified documents until after 2024 election

Special Counsel Jack Smith is opposing former President Donald Trump’s request to postpone the trial for his alleged mishandling of classified documents until after the 2024 election.

In a court filing on Thursday, the special counsel’s legal team rejected the defendants’ argument that a fair trial could not be called before the presidential election. Prosecutors cited the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, which says magistrates must hold trials “as soon as possible”, with allowances for limited delays in limited circumstances.

“The defendants fault the government for asking for an ‘expedited’ trial, but in doing so they got it right back,” Assistant Special Counsel David Harbach wrote. “A speedy trial is a fundamental requirement of the United States Constitution and Code, not a government preference that must be justified.”

Lawyers for Trump and co-defendant Walt Nauta had said in a filing this week that starting the trial in December — the delay requested by the special counsel — would be “unreasonable, revealing and … result in a miscarriage of justice.”

Harbach challenged that characterization on Thursday, writing, “There is no basis in law or in fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open manner, and the defendants provide none.”

He instead urged U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, to set the trial date for December.

Last month, prosecutors in Smith’s office requested that Trump’s criminal trial be postponed until December 11. Cannon originally set the trial date for August 14.

Trump was indicted last month on seven criminal charges alleging he mishandled more than 100 classified documents discovered last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

He faces 37 charges related to allegations he willfully withheld national defense information, conspired to obstruct justice and made false statements. Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty.

A Trump spokesperson responded to the special counsel’s filing by accusing Smith, the Justice Department and the FBI of election interference.

He said the case “should never go to trial” and should be dismissed based on the Presidential Records Act and other cases, which Trump and his attorneys have described as central to their defense.

The special counsel’s office argued in Thursday’s filing that such a defense “borders on frivolity” and does not merit the postponement of court proceedings.

“As to the impact of the Presidential Records Act on this prosecution, any argument that it compels the dismissal of the indictment or constitutes a defense to the charges herein is frivolous,” Harbach wrote, adding that the Presidential Records Act is “not a criminal”. status, and in no way purports to deal with the retention of national security information”.

“Defendants are, of course, free to present any arguments they wish for the dismissal of the indictment, and the government will respond promptly,” Harbach wrote. “But they shouldn’t be allowed to gimmick at a baseless legal argument, call it ‘novel’, and then pretend the court will demand an indefinite extension to resolve it.”

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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