Judge Delays Some Deadlines in Trump Classified Documents Case

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A federal judge on Saturday postponed a few deadlines in former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case to allow prosecutors time to respond to his request for a broader pause in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling this week on executive immunity.

On Friday, lawyers for Mr. Trump asked Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the case, for permission to file additional papers to bolster their immunity contention. They argue that the Supreme Court’s decision in a separate case granting Mr. Trump wide protections for official acts as president applies to the documents proceeding.

As part of their effort, the lawyers asked Judge Cannon to put the documents case almost entirely on hold as she grappled with the question of immunity.

In a brief order on Saturday, Judge Cannon told prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, that they had until July 18 to respond to Mr. Trump’s request for a broad delay. In the meantime, she pushed back two approaching deadlines in the case related to filings about expert witnesses the two sides plan to introduce at trial and to the defense’s obligation to provide discovery information to the government.

The postponement of the two deadlines was likely to cause only minor delays to the documents case, which has already been slowed to a crawl by Judge Cannon’s previous decisions. The judge has not yet set a date for Mr. Trump and his two co-defendants to go on trial. Because she is still mulling a host of unresolved legal issues, it is exceedingly unlikely that the case will go in front of a jury before the election in November.

Still, like many orders from Judge Cannon, her decision to push back the deadlines had an unusual aspect.

As part of the order, she delayed the deadline — set for Wednesday — for Mr. Smith’s deputies to file consequential legal papers detailing the sorts of classified materials that they believe would not be relevant or safe to use if and when the matter finally goes to trial. In the next breath, however, she told the special counsel’s office that it “may proceed with filing should it so elect.”

There could be more unusual twists and turns coming in the effort by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to hitch the documents case, which revolves around Mr. Trump’s behavior after he left office, to the Supreme Court’s ruling on immunity. That decision arrived on Monday after months of legal wrangling in Mr. Trump’s other federal case — the one in Washington where he stands accused of plotting to subvert the 2020 election.

For one, it remains unclear whether Judge Cannon will be open to the defense’s arguments for immunity when the indictment focused almost exclusively on actions that Mr. Trump took after he left the White House.

The charges in the documents case accuse the former president of illegally retaining sensitive national security materials after he was out of power and then obstructing the government’s efforts to get them back from his residence in Florida.

Mr. Trump’s original arguments for immunity to the charges in the documents case were fairly far-fetched. They were made well before the Supreme Court, considering his claims in the election interference case, said he did in fact enjoy some form of immunity.

In February, his lawyers filed a motion to Judge Cannon arguing that he could not be tried on the classified documents charges because he claimed to have designated the materials at issue to be his personal property before he left the White House under a law known as the Presidential Records Act.

That decision, the lawyers said, was taken in his official role as president and so could not form the basis of a criminal charge.

Mr. Smith’s team has scoffed at the idea that the Presidential Records Act could authorize Mr. Trump to designate some of the country’s most secret documents as his personal records.



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