Trump calls for election interference trial to start in 2026, after next polls

Former US president says delayed trial should not start in January

A slim majority of Americans approve of the US Justice Department indicting former US president Donald Trump over his attempts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election, according to an AP poll. AP
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Lawyers for Donald Trump on Thursday requested an April 2026 trial date for the federal charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election – long after next year's presidential vote.

Lead prosecutor Jack Smith is pushing for a January 2 start for the case, one of four criminal prosecutions Mr Trump is facing in the middle of his White House re-election campaign.

“The public interest lies in justice and fair trial, not a rush to judgment,” the former president's lawyers said in their filing.

They said the amount of documents in the case would require months to process.

“Assuming we could begin reviewing the documents today, we would need to proceed at a pace of 99,762 pages per day to finish the government's initial production by its proposed date for jury selection,” they said.

“That is the entirety of Tolstoy's War and Peace, cover to cover, 78 times a day, every day, from now until jury selection.”

Judge Tanya Chutkan is set to decide the trial date on August 28.

“The government's proposed [January 2] trial date represents an appropriate balance of the defendant's right to prepare a defence and the public's strong interest in a speedy trial in the case,” Mr Smith earlier said in court filing.

The case is the most serious of four criminal probes that have yielded dozens of felony charges against Mr Trump, including allegations that he covered up hush money payments to an adult film star in a bid to cheat campaign finance rules before the 2020 election.

The government also accuses Mr Trump of mishandling dozens of classified documents he took from the White House as he left office, including military plans and nuclear secrets, and plotting with his staff to hide them from investigators.

President Joe Biden's Attorney General, Merrick Garland, appointed Mr Smith as a special counsel in the federal election conspiracy case, giving him sole charge of prosecuting decisions to avoid actual or apparent political influence.

Donald Trump slams 'ridiculous indictment' as an 'act of desperation'

Donald Trump slams 'ridiculous indictment' as an 'act of desperation'

Mr Trump and his team have said the prosecution is politically biased.

“The incumbent administration has targeted its primary political opponent – and leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election – with criminal prosecution,” his lawyers said in their Thursday filing.

The dates for two of Mr Trump's other trials, at the state level in New York and at the federal level in Florida, have already been set to open before the November 2024 vote, in March and May respectively.

The trial date for his election-related racketeering charges in Georgia has not yet been fixed.

Updated: August 18, 2023, 1:11 AM