The federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's classified document mishandling case has denied a plea from Special Counsel Jack Smith's team and agreed to a brief postponement of a scheduling hearing that had been scheduled to occur on July 14, as ABC News reports.
That hearing, which also involves c0-defendant and Trump confidante Walt Nauta, will now take place on Tuesday, July 18, according to the outlet.
It was Nauta's lawyer, Stanley Woodward, who sought the delay, citing his required appearance as defense counsel at a Jan. 6-related trial.
Judge Aileen Cannon's decision to postpone the hearing came over the objections of Jay Bratt, the top prosecutor on Smith's team, who suggested that Woodward's presence at the proceedings was not required, since Nauta also has local counsel to represent him.
In a court filing opposing the delay, Bratt wrote, “There is a strong public interest in the conference occurring as originally scheduled and the case proceeding as expeditiously as possible.”
Of much greater potential implications in terms of the broader case against Trump and Nauta, however, is the pair's recent request to have the entire criminal trial pushed back until after the 2024 elections have been held, a development on which Reuters reported this week.
Lawyers for the former president and for Nauta said in their filing on the matter, “President Trump is running for president of the United States and is currently the likely Republican nominee.”
“This undertaking requires a tremendous amount of time and energy, and that effort will continue until the election on November 5, 2024,” the attorneys continued.
As such, counsel for the joint defendants explained, “Such preparation requires significant planning and time, making the current schedule untenable and counseling in favor of a continuance.”
Logistical concerns were not the only issues raised by Trump's attorneys in their request to postpone the documents trial, as Reuters further explained.
Counsel for the former president added that the unprecedented and historic nature of the indictment implicated “significant” legal questions and a host of challenges arising out of the classified nature of the evidence at issue.
Smith's team of prosecutors had already requested that Cannon change the initially announced trial date of Aug. 14 to Dec. 11 to facilitate additional preparations in the case, but it is far from clear that the government would willingly agree to a postponement of the length now sought by Trump and Nauta.
No comment on Trump and Nauta's request was immediately forthcoming from Smith's office, but a spokesperson for the special counsel indicated that a formal response would be filed in court in the near future.
Trump stands accused of 37 counts in connection to his handling of classified materials after his departure from office, and he has pleaded not guilty to all of them. Nauta also entered a not guilty plea to the six charges – including conspiracy and false statements counts – he now faces. Whether Cannon ultimately accepts their arguments about the importance of allowing the 2024 electoral process to play out before wading into these uncharted judicial waters, however, only time will tell.