On Oct. 6, a Washington federal judge handed former President Donald Trump a legal win by partially granting a request by his attorney to allow for extra time to file motions in the federal election obstruction case ahead of his trial in March 2024.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan issued the order granting Trump’s legal team additional time to craft arguments in the case, which was brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
Trump’s team was granted some additional time to file motions, although Chutkan mostly rejected his lawyer’s request to order a declassified version of some of the government’s court filings regarding classified evidence. Trump’s legal team was, however, granted a request to file objections regarding classified evidence in the case.
“Lengthy deadline extensions for the defense’s anticipated dispositive motions — like motions to dismiss — are not warranted,” her order said. “If the court were to extend the briefing schedule for these motions by the requested sixty days, they would not be fully briefed until January 2024.”
Trump requested a 60-day extension to file pre-trial court motions, but Chutkan only allowed a two-week extension. Any motions to dismiss the case, and several other types of motions, must be filed by Oct. 23.
The news comes after Trump’s lawyers wrote in court papers that they needed more time to consider procedures for reviewing classified evidence in the case, adding that the team is “seeking a fair opportunity for reasonable adversary proceedings” regarding the materials.
They said that lawyers were able to review classified evidence provided by Smith’s office for the first time on Tuesday, but that the amount of time they had to review the documents was insufficient.
“Our review was brief and preliminary,” the motion stated. “But it is clear that President Trump is entitled to additional materials possessed by the U.S. intelligence community” and other portions of the executive branch.
Additionally, they noted that several members of Trump’s legal team do not yet have the required clearance to review the evidence.
“Third, as noted above, in light of restrictions on one of the central documents in the classified discovery, we are presently foreclosed from making applications to the Special Counsel’s Office or the Court relating to the substance of the document,” his lawyers wrote. “Thus, although we anticipate transmitting discovery requests and motions to compel, we are not in a position to pursue those mechanisms as of this filing.”
Federal prosecutors railed against the motion, claiming it was an attempt to “delay the proceedings” and claimed the amount of classified materials in the case was relatively small. They claimed his team also failed “to provide a basis for any extension” regarding pre-trial motions in the case.
Trump is charged with four federal felonies in the case alleging that he attempted to obstruct the 2020 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming these and other charges are part of a longstanding effort by Democrats and federal bureaucrats to damage his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump’s team filed a motion last week seeking that the case be dismissed, citing what they described as immunity. Chutkan has yet to rule on that dismissal motion, and special counsel lawyers have not responded.
“Where, as here, the president’s actions are within the ambit of his office, he is absolutely immune from prosecution,” his lawyers said, alleging that President Joe Biden’s administration was “breaking 234 years of precedent” with the charges against him.
“The incumbent administration has charged President Trump for acts that lie not just within the ‘outer perimeter,’ but at the heart of his official responsibilities as president. In doing so, the prosecution does not, and cannot, argue that President Trump’s efforts to ensure election integrity, and to advocate for the same, were outside the scope of his duties,” the filing said.
Chutkan previously denied a request from Trump’s team that she recuse herself from the case over public comments that were made by her when she sentenced several people for actions relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach at the Capitol building.
While sentencing, Chutkan made remarks that suggested that Trump should be imprisoned or prosecuted, which, they argued, implied bias against the former president, making an impartial decision impossible.
“Judge Chutkan has, in connection with other cases, suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned,” his lawyers said.
Chutkan, however, wrote that there was no basis for her recusal, claiming her public comments, “certainly do not manifest a deep-seated prejudice that would make fair judgment impossible.”
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