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Trump’s Lawyers Request Special Treatment for Trial

FORT PIERCE, Florida, July 18 (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s lawyers have approached a U.S. federal judge to urge her not to treat the former president like any other criminal defendant when scheduling his trial for charges related to mishandling classified documents. They argue that the consideration of his ongoing presidential campaign should factor into the decision-making process.

Trump, who is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election against Democratic President Joe Biden, has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawfully retaining national defense documents after his departure from office in 2021, as well as conspiring to obstruct government efforts to recover them.

Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, has asked U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, to take into account the timing of the U.S. presidential campaign when determining the trial schedule.

While Cannon did not set a trial date during the hearing, which Trump did not attend, she expressed doubt about the prosecutors’ request for a December start. She questioned prosecutor Jay Bratt about whether there had been any previous cases involving classified information that had gone to trial in less than six months. Bratt was unable to provide a specific example.

However, Cannon also expressed reluctance to grant Trump’s request for an indefinite delay, stating that “we need to set a schedule.”

This is one of several prosecutions Trump is facing regarding his time in the White House. In addition to the documents case, Trump mentioned that U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, has notified him of being a target of a grand jury investigation into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

During the hearing, Trump attorney Kise argued that since the charges were brought by the U.S. Justice Department under Biden’s administration, the case could be seen as a clash between the “two leading contenders for president of the United States squaring off in court.”

Prosecutor David Harbach dismissed suggestions of political interference, stating that they were “flat out false.” He pointed out that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith as a special counsel precisely to distance the investigation from politics.

Furthermore, Harbach emphasized that career prosecutors handling the case were not influenced by any political agenda, stating, “we would not be working on it if we thought we were doing somebody’s political bidding.”

The charges Trump is facing include violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the unauthorized possession of defense information. If convicted, the 77-year-old former president could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Initially, Cannon scheduled the trial to commence on August 14, a date that both the defense and prosecution objected to due to insufficient preparation time.

Last year, following an FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, classified documents pivotal to the criminal case were discovered. In a challenge lodged prior to the filing of criminal charges, Cannon ruled in favor of Trump, contesting the Justice Department’s investigation. However, her ruling was later overturned on appeal.

Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Will Dunham, David Bario, Noeleen Walder, and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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For instance, AI legalese decoder can decipher the intricate aspects of the Espionage Act, shedding light on the specific charges against Trump and clarifying potential legal ramifications. By breaking down the legal language, this tool ensures that ordinary citizens can better understand the charges and the potential sentence.

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