Trump’s defense requests postponement of evidence handling hearing in election trial

Former US President Donald Trump’s attorneys on Tuesday asked the judge in his trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election to delay scheduling a court hearing that will help determine how evidence can be used and shared in the case.

Trump’s attorneys and US Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team clashed in a joint court filing over a hearing date before US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan to discuss the handling of evidence.

Prosecutors said they were available all week long. Trump’s lawyers asked for a postponement until early next week.

On Monday, Trump’s defense team opposed a request from prosecutors for Chutkan to impose a protective order to ensure confidential evidence is not shared publicly by Trump, suggesting he could use the information to intimidate witnesses.

Trump’s attorneys said limits would infringe on his right to free speech, protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Typically, defense lawyers do not oppose such protective orders because doing so can delay the government from producing the evidence it intends to use at trial in a process known as discovery.

Chutkan ordered both sides to propose a hearing date for this week to discuss their disagreements. The disagreement over a hearing date represented the latest effort by Trump’s team to delay or slow legal proceedings.

It also underscored the logistical challenges that Trump’s team may have as it continues to represent him in two separate federal criminal cases brought by Smith’s office, one in Washington, D.C., and the other in southern Florida, where Trump is charged with retaining highly classified records after leaving the White House and obstructing the government’s efforts to have the records returned.

One of Trump’s attorneys, Todd Blanche, will be in federal court in Florida on Thursday for an arraignment, after the government filed a superseding indictment which charged Trump with additional criminal counts and also charged another one of his employees in the case.

In the joint Washington filing, Trump’s lawyers said Trump wished for both Blanche and his other lawyer John Lauro to be present for the hearing before Chutkan.

“Mr. Lauro is available on Thursday, with a preference for an afternoon setting. However, since we lost Friday as an option, we would respectfully request a setting on Monday (after 12:00 p.m.) or Tuesday (all day) to allow for both Mr. Blanche and Mr. Lauro to be present,” they wrote.

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