During a hearing on Monday, Judge Tanya Chutkan argued that President Donald Trump’s lawyers should have begun going through the evidence in the DOJ's Jan 6 case against him even before the indictment was handed down. She argued against a 2026 start date for the federal 2020 election case, which the defense has been requesting.
In the transcript of the hearing, obtained by Julie Kelly, Chutkan said that "the government hasn’t identified any cases in this district where the length of time between the indictment and trial was roughly five months, although they did point to the Manafort case in the Eastern District of Virginia, which went to trial roughly five months after the superseding indictment."
Chutkan went on to say that "the manner in which the discovery in this case has been organized indicates that the government has made a considerable effort to expedite review."
Prosecutors had pushed back against the 2026 start date, arguing that Trump should already be familiar with much of the discovery materials, with prosecutor Molly Gaston writing in a previous court paper that around three million pages came from "entities associated with" Trump.
Hundreds of thousands of other pages have been publicly available, they state, among them "the defendant’s tweets, Truth Social posts, campaign statements and court papers involving challenges to the 2020 election by the defendant or his allies."
Gaston also said that around one million pages came from the House Select Committee on January 6, including a trove of interviews and depositions that she said were "already public in redacted form."
Chutkan, speaking to Trump's attorney John Lauro, said that he didn’t need more time than to the March 4 trial date to review the millions of pages of evidence. She said that this evidence, though it may be new to Lauro, "is material your client created or material that your client’s lawyers, maybe not you specifically, saw and reviewed and had possession of before this case."
Lauro had asked for the start date to be delayed until April 2026 so the defense has time to go through the more than 12.8 million pages of discovery that have been given by the DOJ to the defense team.
"For a federal prosecutor to suggest that we could go to trial in four months is not only absurd, it’s a violation of the oath of justice," Lauro said, according to the New York Times, adding, "We cannot do this in the time frame the government has outlined."
"You suggest that the defense needs a substantial amount of time to investigate, for example. The existence of the grand jury investigating in this case has been known for — since September 2022, almost a year, has been public knowledge," she said.
Lauro argued that "there’s no obligation for any American citizen to start conducting their own defense during a grand jury investigation and prepare for a trial when we don’t even know what the issues are, what the charges are."
Chutkan said that while there wasn’t an obligation to do so, "a good defense attorney, knowing that their client was under investigation by a grand jury … would already start."
The judge argued against a 2026 start date for a trial, arguing that "it’s not an unveiling — a surprise he’s been indicted. You’ve known this was coming. Mr. Trump’s counsel has known this was coming for some time."
During the hearing, Chitkan set a March 4, 2024 start for the trial of Trump in the 2020 election case brought forth by special counsel Jack Smith. This is one day before Super Tuesday, when 14 states head to the polls for the primary election.
It also comes around 20 days before Trump’s trial in Manhattan is set to start, on falsifying business records brought forth by District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump has vowed to appeal the decision, writing that "Deranged Jack Smith & his team of Thugs, who were caught going to the White House just prior to Indicting the 45th President of the United States (an absolute No No!), have been working on this Witch Hunt for almost 3 years, but decided to bring it smack in the middle of Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent’s campaign against him."
"Today a biased, Trump Hating Judge gave me only a two month extension, just what our corrupt government wanted, SUPER TUESDAY. I will APPEAL!"
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