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Justice

Special Counsel, Jack Smith, Donald Trump
Photo credit: Illustration by WhoWhatWhy from Tyler Merbler / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 DEED), DOJ / YouTube, Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED), and Documentcloud.

Donald Trump’s legal team is petitioning the court to compel special counsel Jack Smith to turn over mountains of documents to the former president — another move to delay his trials as long as possible.

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As everybody should know by now, Donald Trump is trying to delay his four criminal trials until after the election in the hopes of retaking the White House and then making the federal charges disappear in some way (or just pardoning himself). 

The latest effort along those lines is a “motion to compel discovery” that Trump’s team filed late Tuesday in the case of the former president’s (admitted) theft of documents. 

His attorneys are asking special counsel Jack Smith’s team to turn over reams of documents, including communications between prosecutors and associates of President Joe Biden. Ostensibly, this is meant to show that the case is “politically motivated.” In reality, it is more likely a ploy to gum up the works in a trial in which overwhelming evidence shows that the former president illegally took classified documents.

And, since US District Judge Aileen Cannon has shown a propensity to rule in favor of Trump, who appointed her to the bench, there is a good chance it will succeed. 

The motion, which sometimes reads like an excerpt from a Trump campaign speech — for example by referencing his “historic landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses” — alleges that the Biden administration is somehow behind the prosecution. It bears repeating that the evidence presented against Trump is extraordinarily damning and that the former president has admitted to taking these documents but argued that he was right to do so. 

“The Special Counsel’s Office has disregarded basic discovery obligations and DOJ policies in an effort to support the Biden Administration’s egregious efforts to weaponize the criminal justice system in pursuit of an objective that President Biden cannot achieve on the campaign trail: slowing down President Trump’s leading campaign in the 2024 presidential election,” the lawyers argued. 

It should go without saying that nobody has presented any actual evidence that the Biden White House coordinated with Smith’s team in any way. 

That didn’t stop Trump’s lawyers from claiming that the administration “clearly took steps to create a false appearance of separation from the investigation that it was driving.”

If Cannon were to side with the former president, his legal team would get access to a mountain of documents and the identity of many administration officials whom they could compel to testify. That would allow Trump’s attorneys to go on a fishing expedition with the goal of finding anything that can be made to sound like it supports the defense’s narrative that this case is an example of “election interference.”

However, that is likely only a secondary objective.

For now, Trump’s goal is to push back the current trial date. As of now, it is scheduled to begin on May 20, but, based on her previous rulings, it seems likely that Cannon will delay proceedings further. 

Author

  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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