Delay, delay, delay.
It’s been a mainstay of Donald Trump’s legal strategy in his business career, politics, as president, and now as he fends off prosecutions as a 2024 candidate. And prosecutors with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office are calling him out on it.
The latest broadsides from Smith’s team came after Trump filed two separate motions on consecutive days last week, each seeking more time. Each request would jeopardize the April 2024 trial day already set in the case, prosecutors said in their two filings Monday afternoon.
But they went farther, saying that Trump was intentionally trying to delay his trial in D.C. federal court on charges stemming from his effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election. In effect they argued that having lost his bid for an April 2026 trial, Trump was trying to use repeated delays to achieve his desired trial date.
“The defendant should not be permitted to delay the trial until his preferred 2026 trial date, already rejected by the Court, through unwarranted extensions of interim deadlines,” Smith’s team wrote.
There’s a bigger trend here with Trump and Smith. Trump has spent years manipulating the intertwined media, political, and legal worlds through double-speak, delay, and misdirection. The tactics are clear, and Smith’s team has made a point of being as precise and aggressive as possible about calling out these efforts to delay proceedings and muddy the waters when they see them.
In response to the request from Trump for more time to file motions before trial, Smith’s team pointed out that attorneys for the former president have been saying on cable TV for nearly one month that they intend to file various motions. And yet, the filing reads, no such motions have been filed.
Trump had also asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for the District of Columbia to issue a ruling which would delay matters relating to classified material in the case. That argument partly came as attorneys for the former president complained that they hadn’t gotten their security clearances approved, and therefore couldn’t review documents.
In that case, prosecutors said that one Trump attorney — Todd Blanche — had managed to receive his clearance in early September. John Lauro, prosecutors said, had not yet sent his paperwork in to complete the process.
That’s a bit of a problem, prosecutors suggest, for Trump’s argument, which says that his team can only move forward in the case once all attorneys receive clearances. Or, as prosecutors wrote, that date is “unknown and unknowable.”
Trump has also said that the supposed delays in access to classified information mean that he won’t be able to fully develop his defense arguments. It’s not clear how big a role classified information will eventually play in the D.C. prosecution, though the government has said it will be minor and will not be a part in their case in chief.
But the argument that Trump and his attorneys cannot formulate a full defense lacks any real credibility on its own. In the weeks after the indictment, Trump’s attorneys publicly described in detail how they planned to defend their powerful and famous client, a fact that prosecutors note in their argument.
“The defendant evidently knew his defense theories before ever reviewing a page of unclassified or classified discovery,” prosecutors write.
Given the facts arrayed against him, Trump’s real defense has stayed the same all along: delaying the proceedings as much as possible before the November 2024 election, winning it, and then using the power of his office to grind the cases to a halt.
Trump’s requests to delay dates for pretrial filings would “by design, disrupt the trial date,” prosecutors insisted.