Special counsel says Trump and co-defendants 'will stop at nothing' to delay classified docs trial

Jack Smith accuses Trump of a "relentless" ploy to delay their trial.

February 9, 2024, 12:56 PM

On the same day that a special counsel announced he was not recommending classified documents charges against President Joe Biden, another special counsel accused former President Donald Trump and the co-defendants in his own classified documents case of a "relentless and misleading" ploy to delay their trial.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who has been investigating Trump's handling of classified documents as well as his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, wrote in a court filing Thursday that Trump and his co-defendants in the documents case "will stop at nothing to stall the adjudication of the charges against them by a fair and impartial jury of citizens."

It's not the first time Smith has leveled such an accusation at Trump; in November he said that Trump wanted to delay both federal cases against him "at any cost."

But Smith's latest salvo comes as Trump appears to be on the verge of locking up the Republican presidential nomination -- and the chances of any federal trial starting before the election appear to be dwindling.

Smith's filing came within hours of the release of special counsel Robert Hur's report on his probe into Biden's own handling of classified documents while out of office -- in which Hur determined that no criminal charges were warranted.

Trump, responding on social media to Hur's report, said, "If Special Counsel Jack Smith wants to do good for our Country, and help to unify it, he should drop all Litigation against Joe Biden's Political Opponent, ME, and let our Country HEAL."

In the classified documents case, Smith has changed Trump, his aide Walt Nauta, and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira with allegedly refusing to return classified documents to the federal government and then trying to hide them from the FBI. In the Jan. 6 case, Trump is charged with four federal offenses for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump and his co-defendants have pleaded not guilty in both cases and have denied all wrongdoing.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event, on July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas.
John Locher/AP

In his filing on Thursday, Smith told U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, the judge in Florida overseeing Trump's classified documents case, that the latest request by Trump and his co-defendants represents an "unceasing effort to delay this case."

At issue is the deadline for filing certain pretrial motions, which are currently due by Feb. 22. The deadline had originally been set for early November, but it was scrapped with just hours to go. Smith, in his filing Thursday, argued that neither Trump nor his co-defendants should be allowed to extend the deadline even further, especially because they "must have been largely prepared" to file their motions months ago when the initial deadline was only hours away.

Smith argued that "their motive is additionally revealed" by a filing earlier this week, in which Trump's attorneys informed Judge Cannon that one of their pretrial motions would be a motion to dismiss the case based on, among other things, presidential immunity.

"[T]he criminal conduct charged ... took place entirely after defendant Trump left office," Smith said in his filing to Cannon. "The only purpose for such a frivolous motion in this case would be to artificially create a new avenue for potential delay."

"It is another transparent effort to stall the trial," Smith wrote.

Trump's attorneys, however, say that it's Smith who has gone too far.

"The Special Counsel's Office is engaged in a reckless effort to try to obtain a conviction of President Trump prior to the 2024 Election, no matter the cost," they wrote in an October filing.

Trump's classified documents trial is currently scheduled to begin on May 20, after Cannon earlier rejected Trump's efforts to postpone the trial until after the presidential election in November.

However, the ongoing pretrial wrangling is expected to delay that start date.

There is currently no trial date set for the federal election interference case against Trump. That trial was supposed to begin on March 4, but the judge in the case vacated that date while Trump pursued a claim of presidential immunity, which an appeals court subsequently rejected on Tuesday.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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