Attorneys for Trump attend first pretrial hearing in classified documents case
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Former President Donald Trump's legal problems keep getting bigger.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Yeah. On Tuesday, he revealed he's been notified he's a target in special counsel Jack Smith's investigation of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and there are questions about whether this could lead to a third indictment for Trump. And yesterday, Trump's lawyers were in court in Fort Pierce, Fla., on his second indictment. They asked a federal judge to delay his trial on charges of withholding and concealing classified documents until after next year's presidential election. Federal prosecutors want the trial to start in December.
FADEL: NPR's Greg Allen joins us now from Fort Pierce. Hi, Greg.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Leila.
FADEL: OK. So before we get to what's going on in Florida, let's talk about what Trump is calling a target letter. Does this mean he'll be indicted again - a third indictment - and face more felony charges?
ALLEN: It does look like a strong possibility. Trump posted this on his website, Truth Social, yesterday. He said he received word Sunday he's a target in the investigation - that he has four days to appear before the grand jury. The grand jury has been meeting in Washington for some time as part of special counsel Jack Smith's January 6 investigation.
But target letters like that, especially for someone like a former president, suggests an indictment will soon follow. On what charges are - it's not clear yet, but legal observers say they could include obstructing a legal proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the government. All this suggests it could be the most serious case yet against the former president.
FADEL: OK. So you were in court yesterday for a different case, where Trump has been indicted. He's charged with willfully withholding and concealing classified documents. What do we know about when that trial will start?
ALLEN: Well, that is the question right now. Lawyers for the former president told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon they believe the case should be delayed until next year, after the presidential election. That's more than a year from now. They have numerous reasons for that they laid out. Among them and one that seemed to carry some weight with the judge is the sheer volume of material that defense lawyers will have to go through. They say they have more than 190,000 emails, 450GB of data and more than 1,100 days of surveillance camera footage to go through. They also say that this fits the legal definition of a complex case, which merits a more extended trial schedule. A Trump lawyer, Todd Blanche, told the judge that, as a former president and one who's now running again for the nation's highest office, he deserves special consideration. Blanche said it is intellectually dishonest to stand up in front of this court and say this case is like any other. It is not.
FADEL: How did prosecutors react to that?
ALLEN: Well, they certainly reject that argument. Prosecutor David Harbach told the judge Mr. Trump is not the president. He's a private citizen indicted by a grand jury. Harbach also rejected an assertion by Trump's lawyers that all the publicity and press coverage surrounding it is another reason to delay the trial. He told the judge that all the publicity surrounding Trump is, quote, "chronic and almost permanent." Prosecutors want to start the trial in less than five months, on December 11. And the lawyers for Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, who's also indicted in the case, say they can't possibly be ready by then. They told the judge they can't even begin to discuss a possible trial schedule until sometime in November.
FADEL: Any hints from the judge on how she might rule on the start date of the trial?
ALLEN: It's what everybody's trying to figure out. Judge Cannon is a Trump appointee, and you may recall that she received a legal rebuke last year from a federal appeals court that struck down a ruling she made that was favorable to Trump. This was in an earlier hearing regarding these classified documents. Up to now, she's been pushing for a speedy trial. She seemed to take note yesterday of the large amount of material that Trump and now his lawyers have to go through, but she also seemed frustrated by their argument that they can't begin to discuss a schedule now. So she said she'll issue an order soon on an appropriate schedule.
FADEL: NPR's Greg Allen in Fort Pierce, Fla. Thanks, Greg.
ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.