Judge Orders Hearing on Evidence Sharing in Trump's Election Trial
A federal judge, Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the trial of former President Donald Trump on allegations of attempting to overturn the 2020 election, has issued an order for a hearing on Friday. The purpose of this hearing is to establish guidelines for the utilization and sharing of evidence in the case. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) on Friday, and it follows a disagreement between Trump's legal team and U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith's office regarding the timing of the proceeding.
While the prosecutors expressed their availability throughout the week, Trump's lawyers requested a postponement until the following week. The hearing is of significance due to its relevance in addressing a request made by the prosecutors for Judge Chutkan to implement a protective order. This order would safeguard confidential evidence from being publicly disclosed by Trump, as there were concerns that he might employ this information to intimidate potential witnesses. Trump, who has pleaded not guilty and labeled the charges as politically motivated, asserted that such limitations would encroach upon his First Amendment rights to free speech, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Despite this legal discourse, Donald Trump is not expected to be physically present during the hearing, as Judge Chutkan has waived his appearance. Typically, defense lawyers do not contest protective orders, as doing so can potentially delay the government's provision of evidentiary material for trial proceedings, a process known as discovery.
This recent disagreement over the hearing date is emblematic of a broader pattern wherein Trump's legal team seeks to prolong or hinder the legal process. Furthermore, it underscores the logistical complexities faced by Trump's legal representatives as they navigate two distinct federal criminal cases initiated by Jack Smith's office. These cases are being pursued separately, one in Washington, D.C., and the other in southern Florida. The Florida case involves charges against Trump for the retention of highly classified records subsequent to his departure from the White House, along with accusations of obstructing the government's efforts to recover those records. As in the previous case, Trump has pleaded not guilty in this instance as well.
One of Trump's legal representatives, Todd Blanche, is set to appear in a federal court in Florida on Thursday for an arraignment. This follows the government's submission of an amended indictment that includes additional criminal charges against Trump and also implicates one of his associates in the case.
In a jointly filed document in Washington, Trump's legal team expressed Trump's desire for both Todd Blanche and his other lawyer, John Lauro, to be present during the hearing before Judge Chutkan.