Special Counsel Jack Smith Moves to Push Trump's Trial to December, Discloses Existence of 84 Government Witnesses

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In a new development, Special Counsel Jack Smith has filed a motion with Judge Aileen Cannon, requesting a delay in the trial date for the high-profile federal prosecution of former President Donald Trump. The motion seeks to push the trial start date to December 11, 2023, when jury selection would begin.


The government’s motion cites the involvement of classified information in the case, requiring Trump’s attorneys to obtain security clearances. This process is already underway, but the motion suggests additional time is needed for both sides to prepare their cases. Smith’s filing says:

The inclusion of additional time for defense counsel to review and digest the discovery, to make their own decisions about any production to the government, and for the government to review the same, is reasonable and appropriate.

As previously reported, during Trump’s arraignment, the parties discussed conditions of his release, resulting in a subsequent order that prevents the former president from discussing the criminal case with witnesses or co-defendant Walt Nauta. This order was both a concession and an achievement for Trump’s counsel, as the initial proposed order would have prevented all contact between those parties and Trump instead of the subject-matter-related condition.

During the June 13 hearing, overseen by Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, one of the Justice Department’s prosecutors raised the issue that it’s unclear who the order would apply to, given that there wasn’t a witness list available. The prosecutor said:

The elephant in the room is that we don’t have a list (of witnesses) yet.


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This prompted Goodman to instruct the DOJ to promptly provide the list of witnesses, thus clarifying the scope of the order. Smith’s late-night filing of a separate document regarding the conditions of Trump’s release on his own recognizance reveals in the footnotes that there are 84 government witnesses in the case so far. The motion was to submit the witness list, under seal, that the DOJ provided to the defense on Thursday to satisfy the court’s order.

Trump’s lawyers do not oppose the witness list being submitted under seal but are reported to potentially hold objections to the special condition of his release imposed, which requires that he refrains from discussing the matter with those listed, and possible objections to the manner of the government’s version of compliance with the order itself.

The footnote reads:

The government has conferred with counsel for Defendant Trump and Defendant Nauta about this motion. They have authorized government counsel to represent the following: ‘Defense counsel takes no position on the government’s motion to seal the list of witnesses, but the defense reserves the right to object to the special condition and how it was implemented by the government by providing a list of 84 witnesses in purported compliance with the court’s order.’


The motion says that Trump’s defense counsel isn’t in opposition to pushing back the original trial date, which was unexpectedly set this week by Judge Cannon to begin on August 14. But Trump’s legal team is expected to file a motion in opposition to the proposed dates and to request a status hearing to address the schedules. In the court documents, Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote:

Defense counsel confirmed they do not oppose an adjournment of the current trial date and request a status hearing with the court to address the schedule in this action. Defense counsel anticipate filing an opposition to this motion addressing their objections to the government’s proposed dates.

Judge Cannon initially projected the trial to last two weeks, which puts Special Counsel Jack Smith’s newly requested timeline right up to Christmas Day.


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