Trump’s legal team seeks to delay federal election interference trial until 2026
Former President Donald Trump wants a federal judge to reject special counsel Jack Smith’s request to get the trial underway in early January of next year.
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in polls for the 2024 Republican nomination, is seeking to delay his federal trial on charges related to his efforts to stop the peaceful transfer of power and retain the White House following his 2020 election loss.
In a court filing Thursday, Trump’s attorneys recommended starting the trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.
“This is an unprecedented case in American history. The incumbent administration has targeted its primary political opponent—and leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election—with criminal prosecution,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “The administration has devoted tens of millions of dollars to this effort, creating a special counsel’s office with dozens of employees, many of whom are apparently assigned full-time to this case and this case alone.”
“The government’s objective is clear: to deny President Trump and his counsel a fair ability to prepare for trial. The Court should deny the government’s request,” they added.
The election interference case brought against Trump in the nation’s capital by special counsel Jack Smith is one of four criminal cases Trump is now facing, and one of two brought at the federal level by Justice Department prosecutors.
In a packed second-floor courtroom just a few hundred feet from the U.S. Capitol, Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to four charges in the case: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction; and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.
U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a “criminal defendant” who has “restrictions like every other defendant” — had asked each side to propose trial dates.
In a filing last week, Smith’s team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, “would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes.”
Chutkan is expected to set a trial date at a hearing on the matter on Aug. 28. Trump is not required to attend the hearing in person.
Trump had telegraphed a plan to delay the trial until after the 2024 election and has said that he will try to have the case moved out of Washington, D.C., even though that’s where most of his alleged criminal activity took place. In case after case, federal judges in Washington, including Chutkan, have rejected requests from Jan. 6 riot defendants to move their cases out of the district.
“Courts routinely conclude that defendants can receive a fair trial in the location where they committed their crimes, even though some members of the community were victimized,” Chutkan ruled in the trial of a Jan. 6 defendant last year. Chutkan said she was “not persuaded that no impartial jury can be empaneled here,” saying that the court process would filter out potential jurors who were unable to set their feelings aside.
“In any U.S. jurisdiction, most prospective jurors will have heard about the events of January 6, and many will have various disqualifying biases,” she wrote. “The appropriate way to identify and address those biases is through careful voir dire that asks, among other things, whether prospective jurors can ‘lay aside [their] impression[s] or opinion[s] and render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court.'”