Former President Donald Trump and his personal aide, Walt Nauta, are requesting a lengthy delay before their trial for allegedly hoarding military secrets at Mar-a-Lago. They argue that proceeding with the trial while Trump remains a candidate for president would make it difficult to seat an impartial jury. The defense filing suggests a delay of nearly a year beyond what the prosecutors are proposing.
“Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” attorneys for Trump and his personal aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, said in a court filing Monday night.
This strategy aligns with Trump’s typical legal approach of prolonging proceedings while hoping for changes in the legal landscape. However, in this case, it aims to avoid a criminal trial that could result in a lengthy prison sentence if Trump is convicted, making it the first prosecution of a former president. If Trump were to win the election, he would have legal and constitutional tools to disrupt the prosecution’s efforts, such as the power to self-pardon and the ability to appoint leaders of the Justice Department.
The defense attorneys cite several complications that would make it nearly impossible to prepare for a trial in the coming months. These include a civil trial in New York involving New York Attorney General Letitia James and a criminal trial related to payments to Stormy Daniels. Nauta’s attorney also has four criminal trials scheduled prior to December, including cases involving violence against police officers on January 6, 2021.
While prosecutors argue that the case against Trump is straightforward, the defense claims that the trial will be extraordinarily complicated, involving unprecedented rulings on the handling of presidential records and the validity of the special counsel’s probe.
A federal grand jury indicted Trump on 37 felony charges, including willful retention of national defense information. Trump pleaded not guilty at a hearing in Miami, and Nauta also entered a not guilty plea. The defense is urging the judge not to set a trial date at this time, while prosecutors are pushing for a December 2023 trial.
The defense and prosecutors had a dispute over the timing of a hearing related to the handling of classified information, which was eventually resolved with the hearing scheduled for July 18.
The defense attorneys emphasize that there should be no secret evidence and that the public should have access to all the facts related to the prosecution of a presidential candidate by his political opponent.