Attorneys for former President Donald Trump asked the judge overseeing his federal election interference trial to push back the start date well beyond the January date proposed by special counsel Jack Smith ― all the way to April 2026, nearly a year and a half after the next presidential election.
The lawyers filed the request on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where Trump was indicted Aug. 1 on federal charges linked to an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States and remain in office, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Special counsel Jack Smith has proposed that the trial begin Jan. 2, 2024, saying speedy proceedings were in the vested interest of the public. Smith estimated the trial would take “no longer than four to six weeks.”
Trump’s attorneys, however, claim the expeditious timeline is meant to undercut the former president’s ability to prepare a defense.
“This is an unprecedented case in American history,” the filing says, before claiming that President Joe Biden’s administration has targeted his “primary political opponent ― and leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election ― with criminal prosecution. The administration has devoted tens of millions of dollars to this effort, creating a special counsel’s office with dozens of employees, many of whom are apparently assigned full-time to this case and this case alone.”
The attorneys go on to note Smith’s case has taken more than 2½ years to investigate, pointing to terabytes of discovery materials that amounts to 11.5 million pages of documents.
“Even assuming we could begin reviewing the documents today, we would need to proceed at a pace of 99,762 pages per day to finish the government’s initial production by its proposed date for jury selection,” Gregory Singer, one of Trump’s attorneys, wrote in the brief. “That is the entirety of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace,’ cover to cover, 78 times a day, every day, from now until jury selection.”
“The government’s objective is clear: to deny President Trump and his counsel a fair ability to prepare for trial,” Singer wrote. “The Court should deny the government’s request.”
The former president has now been indicted four times in four jurisdictions: The federal election interference case in Washington, a federal case into his handling of classified documents in Florida, a state case in New York over hush money payments to an adult film star and this week’s indictment in Georgia on attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential results.
The legal whirlwind presents the very real possibility Trump will be forced to stand trial while campaigning in the 2024 presidential race, a complicated effort he has already used to try to push his trial dates beyond the next election.
At present, he could go to trial on Jan. 2 for the federal case alleging a scheme to overturn the election, March 4 for the Georgia election interference case, March 25 for the hush money trial in New York City and May 20 for the case in Florida over the mishandling of classified documents.