Special counsel Jack Smith asks to delay Trump trial over hoard of secret documents

Donald Trump’s criminal trial over a stash of White House documents recovered from his home in an FBI raid may not take place until November.

That was the request that Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith filed late Friday evening with Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the prosecution of the former president.

ABC News first reported the filing, which cites the need for prosecutorial staff to obtain security clearances as one of the key reasons for their requested delay past the original trial date in August.

A second motion requests that Ms Cannon prevent the release of a list of witnesses for the trial whom the Justice Department will seek Mr Trump be barred from contacting. Among other crimes, the ex-president is also charged with witness tampering, and has been ordered not to be in contact with one of his close aides: Walt Nauta.

The development means that any trial will likely begin after at least the initial GOP primary debate this summer and could very well continue through voting in early primary states next year.

Mr Trump has plead not guilty to all 37 counts, and loudly decried what he calls a witch hunt against him. But senior officials from his own administration have undercut that defence, unwilling to propagate the fantasy that Mr Trump had the authority to retain classified documents that pertained to national defence or the nonsense theory that the trove is somehow comparable to much smaller batches of presidential records recovered (without resistance, unlike in Mr Trump’s case) from the homes of Mike Pence and Joe Biden.

His allies have claimed without evidence that the Justice Department is coordinating with the White House on the case, and have held strong to the idea that their leader did nothing wrong.

But new evidence obtained by news outlets indicates that Mr Trump even spoke to reporters about a document in his possession which he verbally acknowledged was still classified.

Mr Smith’s case exploded into view last year with the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago; now, it is one of more than a half dozen criminal and civil legal fights bearing down on the former president.

Aside from being accused of violating the Espionage Act with his trove of (allegedly) stolen documents, Mr Trump is also accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York; in addition, the actions of the ex-president and his legal team are thought to be at the centre of a grand jury investigation in Georgia over the efforts to change the election results in that state.

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