(MIAMI) — The judge overseeing the probe into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents suggested Wednesday that she would move some of the deadlines in the case, acknowledging that the trial could collide with the trial date set in Trump’s federal election interference case in Washington, D.C.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon did not explicitly say whether she would move the trial from its current date of May 20, but said she would make “adjustments” to the schedule — something that attorneys for special counsel Jack Smith acknowledged needs to be done, after Cannon recently paused any litigation involving the handling of the classified materials at the center of the probe.
Cannon said she was having “a hard time seeing how, realistically, this work can be accomplished in a compressed period of time” given that Trump’s court schedule in the election interference trial — which is scheduled to begin March 4 — could consume March, April and possibly May.
Jay Bratt, the head of Justice Department’s counterintelligence division, said Trump’s position in both of the special counsel’s probes has been “to delay it as long as they can.”
“The court should not let the D.C. case drive the schedule here,” Bratt told the judge.
Cannon then asked if the special counsel is aware of any other case, with the same defendant in multiple jurisdictions, where no consideration was given to the defendant assisting in his defense for the various different legal matters.
Bratt acknowledged that the trial scheduled in the election interference case could potentially collide with the documents trial — but said that’s something they don’t know at this point, given the various different potential avenues for pretrial litigation.
Trump pleaded not guilty in June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after prosecutors said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation’s defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government’s efforts to get the documents back.
The former president, along with longtime aide Walt Nauta and staffer Carlos De Oliveira also pleaded not guilty in a superseding indictment to allegedly attempting to delete surveillance footage at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Trump’s attorneys also raised concerns about the amount of discovery they have to review, including the Mar-a-Lago security footage and troves of classified and unclassified documents.
Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche, said the discovery provided to the legal team has been “complicated” and “voluminous” and said that the security footage is “cumbersome if not impossible” to view because it cannot be loaded effectively on their computers.
Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, raised the same concerns, adding that he still does not have the clearance needed to review some of the classified documents.
The defense estimated it would take 10 years to review the entirety of the discovery provided by the government.
A day after Trump joined his attorneys in Miami to review the case’s classified evidence in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF — a specially-equipped secure room for viewing highly classified materials — Judge Cannon expressed concern about the lack of a SCIF in Fort Pierce, Florida, where her chambers are located.
Saying the lack of such a facility does “impact the court’s ability” as well, the judge noted that a SCIF could be established by early next year, but said that was an optimistic assessment.
The judge said she also had concerns about the timing of the trial given the nature of the superseding indictment and issues surrounding security clearances with some of the defense lawyers.
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