Special counsel Jack Smith’s request to set a new deadline for former President Donald Trump’s lawyers to alert the government of classified information they want to present during an upcoming trial has been turned down by a federal judge.
A former prosecutor says the move means the trial, currently scheduled for May 2024, will happen at a later date.
Mr. Smith’s team on Nov. 15 asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to set a deadline for President Trump’s lawyers to file a notice under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) noting that when Judge Cannon recently reset a number of deadlines she did not include a new date for the notice.
The notice “‘is the central document in CIPA,'” prosecutors wrote, quoting a court ruling. “It enables the Government to know what classified information the defense seeks to disclose at trial or in any ancillary hearings and sets the stage for proceedings under CIPA Section 6. Timely notification under CIPA Section 5 ensures that a trial can go forward without delay.”
Because President Trump’s team has access to about 5,500 pages of classified materials, they are in a position to provide notice under CIPA as to which of the materials “they reasonably expect to disclose at trial,” the special counsel’s office added. “Providing such notice by a set, near-term date will facilitate the completion of CIPA litigation before the May 20, 2024 trial date.”
Lawyers for President Trump opposed the motion, according to the government.
Judge Cannon, appointed under President Trump, swiftly rejected Mr. Smith’s request.
She referred to her Nov. 10 order, which reset pre-trial deadlines based on a review of CIPA cases presented by the parties and left other deadlines up in the air pending a conference scheduled for March 1, 2024.
“To the extent the special counsel’s motion seeks reconsideration in part of the court’s November 10, 2023, Order 215, that request is denied,” Judge Cannon said in a paperless order on Thursday. “CIPA Section 5 deadlines, and all other pre-trial deadlines not included in the first batch of pre-trial deadlines contained in the Court’s revised schedule 215, will be set following the March 1, 2024, scheduling conference.”
Brandon Van Grack, a former U.S. prosecutor, said the order meant the May trial date “won’t happen.”
“Refusal to schedule hearing shows the court is not going to move with urgency,” Mr. Van Grack wrote on X.
Bradley Moss, an attorney, also wrote that he believed the trial will not happen in May 2024.
The case concerns President Trump’s handling of national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. He was indicted on charges including willful retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
President Trump has said he’s innocent and pleaded not guilty.
Trial Date Not Changed—Yet
In her last order, Judge Cannon said President Trump’s request to delay the trial was “premature” but said she would return to the matter down the road.
President Trump’s lawyers said the trial should be pushed back to no earlier than November 2024, or after the 2024 presidential election. President Trump is running for president and, according to polls, is the top Republican contender.
The lawyers cited the former president’s scheduled March federal trial in Washington and said that prosecutors had not provided all classified discovery, making it difficult to meet the deadlines that were currently in place in the Florida case.
“In sum, the special counsel’s office has failed to make very basic arrangements in this district for the handling of the relevant classified information, the holding of necessary CIPA hearings, and the production of related work product by the court and counsel. The requested adjournments are necessary to allow time for these facilities to be established,” they wrote in one filing.
Prosecutors said in response that the deadlines and trial date were proper and denied delaying discovery.
Judge Cannon said she’s found the special counsel has taken action to produce discovery regularly but noted that defendants did not receive classified discovery until Oct. 17, among other “evolving and unforeseen circumstances.”
The developments necessitated a reevaluation of the deadlines laid out by the judge in July, she said.
“They make plain to the court what due process requires: defendants need more time to review the discovery in this case,” Judge Cannon said. “This order aims to afford that opportunity in a reasonable fashion, balanced against the public’s right to a speedy trial.”
Judge Cannon said she would reconsider President Trump’s request to move the trial back at the March 2024 conference.
She also said that she could “not ignore” the schedules in the Washington case and the criminal case President Trump faces in New York. A trial is also scheduled to start in the latter in March 2024.
“Although the special counsel is correct that the trajectory of these matters potentially remains in flux,” Judge Cannon wrote, “the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense.”