Donald Trump called for a lengthy delay before his trial for allegedly hoarding military secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate, contending that proceeding while he remains a candidate for president would make it virtually impossible to seat an impartial jury, Politico reports. “Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” attorneys for Trump and his aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta, said in a court filing Monday night. Trump’s eagerness to push off a trial sets up the first significant test in the unprecedented case for U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who is already weighing special counsel Jack Smith’s push for a December 2023 trial, which he says is in the public interest to begin as soon as possible. The defense filing says December is too soon to start a trial and urges Cannon not to set a trial date now.
Assuming Trump wins the Republican nomination, the defense appears to urge nearly a year of delay beyond what prosecutors are proposing. The tactic is in keeping with Trump’s typical legal strategy: to drag out matters he faces as long as possible while hoping the legal landscape changes. This time, it’s an effort to stave off a criminal trial that could result in a lengthy prison sentence if he’s convicted — the first ever prosecution of a former president. If Trump wins the election, he would likely end up with legal and constitutional tools to disrupt the prosecution’s efforts. For example, he has previously proclaimed the power to “self-pardon” — an untested exercise of presidential power. He would also get to appoint leaders of the Justice Department, who could simply opt to pull the plug on any lingering criminal matters.