Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer John Lauro came into Monday’s hearing, scheduled to set the trial date in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 case, extremely hot.
As part of the Trump defense team’s push to delay the start of a trial in the case against Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Lauro began his arguments Monday morning with a raised voice and a visibly upset demeanor.
Lauro repeatedly pressed that he disagreed with the government’s argument that the defense has already had access to a large chunk of the discovery because it has been publicly available. Raising his voice and gesticulating aggressively, he called the argument “absurd and ridiculous.”
That was just the first time he was warned to “take the temperature down.”
The tactic was a classic in the Trumpian sphere with histrionics likely intended at least in part for a certain audience outside the courtroom. Lauro came out the gate aggressively, accusing prosecutors of going after an “innocent” man in “retaliation” for MAGAworld’s obsessive attacks on President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Lauro also argued a two-year delay was necessary in order for his team to put together an adequate defense.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan didn’t bite: she ultimately set the trial date for March 4, 2024, dismissing the former president’s absurd request to delay the trial until 2026.
Chutkan’s decision came after considering two significantly different proposals for the date of the trial. The government asked Chutkan to put the case before a jury as early as Jan. 2, 2024, while the defense requested that it start more than two years from now — in April 2026.
This was an exaggerated but unsurprising ask from Trump lawyers — a tactic focused on slowing down the process as much as possible as the former president actively campaigns for a second White House bid all while facing four separate indictments, two of them federal, with hearings being held in four separate states.
Chutkan started the trial by making it clear she did not agree with either side’s proposal.
“These proposals are far apart,” Chutkan said, adding, “neither is acceptable.”
Prosecutor Molly Gaston defended the government’s request, arguing that prosecutors already provided the defense with a well organized and “substantially complete” discovery. She also pressed, on multiple occasions, that a large amount of the 12.8 million pages of discovery came from entities associated with Trump or were already publicly available material, adding that the government’s digitized discovery will make it easy for the defense to search for and go through the documents.
After Gaston’s argument’s, a fiery Lauro took to the lectern to denounce Gaston’s suggestion about the public materials.
Chutkan almost immediately asked the Trump lawyer to “take the temperature down.”
Lauro lowered his voice for a short while, but raised it again as Chutkan pressed him on why the defense needs two years to prepare for a trial that has been expected to come down for months.
The Trump lawyer went on a long and loud rant about the defense team needing adequate time to review the millions of pages of discovery to create the defense that the former president deserves, just like any other defendant.
“It’s not easy when you have the entire government amassed against you,” Lauro said, visibly frustrated. “President Trump stands before you as an innocent man right now.”
“As I’ve said, let’s take the temperature down,” Chutkan said, once again, reminding Lauro to calm down.
Lauro’s aggression continued as he argued that while some of the material in discovery has been publicly available for years, it now must be reviewed within the context of this case.
Chutkan swiftly pushed back on that, pointing out that many of the documents in discovery are records of statements Trump himself made or tweeted and should not be brand new information for the defense and thus should speed up the process of going through the discovery.
Lauro then went on to explain in condescending detail the steps of reviewing discovery, as the judge — visibly annoyed — listened with a raised eyebrow, lightly tapping her pencil on the bench.
After a lengthy back and forth between the judge and Lauro it became crystal clear Chutkan was not going to grant the defense team a 2026 trial date.
“I understand, but this case is not going to trial in 2026,” Chutkan said as Lauro wrapped up his rowdy argument.
Ultimately the judge did not grant either side’s request, arguing that while the date suggested by the prosecutors does not give the defense team enough time to prepare the former president’s defense, the date suggested by the Trump team was asking too much.
Just hours after the judge’s decision, Trump took to his bootleg social media platform Truth Social to, in usual fashion, complain about the so-called witch hunt.
Trump said he plans to appeal the start date Chutkan set for the trial, not realizing that he can’t appeal that decision. His counsel could file a motion to reconsider but it comes down to the judge’s discretion.