May 19, 2024

Trump Must Balance Campaign With Indictments and Lawsuits: Lawyers

  • Trump’s lawyers say his classified document trial should be postponed until after the election.
  • His lawyers argued that it was difficult for the former president to balance the campaign with all the indictments and lawsuits he is facing.
  • If Judge Aileen Cannon – a Trump appointee – agrees, it could allow Trump to pardon himself in 2024 if he wins.

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers have argued in court that his trial in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case should be pushed back until after the 2024 election because it is too difficult for him to balance campaigning with the indictments and all the lawsuits before him.

They made the argument as they appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, for a pretrial hearing.

Prosecutors have asked Cannon for a speedy trial that ends before the end of the year. But Trump’s legal team is pushing for the trial to be postponed until after the 2024 election – which would give Trump a way to avoid the charges if he wins in 2024.

Justice Department prosecutor David Harbach told Cannon on Tuesday that Trump’s legal team has repeatedly said he should be treated differently because he is a 2024 presidential candidate and is the current GOP frontrunner.

But “he should be treated like everyone else,” Harbach said.

If Cannon grants Trump’s request to postpone the trial until after the election, it would mean the trial could take place during Trump’s second presidency, and Trump could pardon himself in the event of a conviction. That’s assuming he doesn’t order the Justice Department to drop the case against him entirely.

Trump is facing a series of criminal and civil indictments, which his defense lawyers said are at odds with his plans for the 2024 campaign trail.

During the hearing, Cannon indicated that she would not grant the prosecution’s request to start the trial in December, but also appeared to not buy the arguments of Trump’s lawyers to push the trial back after the election, according to CNN.

Cannon said she will “promptly” announce her decision on the trial’s start date.

Defense lawyer Christopher Kise told Cannon that Trump faces a civil trial in late October in Letitia James’ $250 million fraud lawsuit against him in New York.

He is also set to face a civil trial in January as part of columnist E. Jean Carroll’s 2019 defamation lawsuit against him. This lawsuit is separate from another suit filed by Carroll accusing Trump of sexual assault and defamation. A jury found Trump liable for sexual misconduct earlier this year and awarded Carroll $5 million.

Trump was also indicted by a New York grand jury in March on 34 counts related to his 2016 hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial is set to begin next March.

And on Tuesday, Trump revealed that special counsel Jack Smith’s office sent him a letter informing him that he was a target in the Department of Justice’s sprawling investigation into the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Trump announced via Truth Social that he received the letter on Sunday and that Smith had given him four days to appear before a grand jury on January 6 – meaning the former president could face his third criminal indictment as soon as this week.

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