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Judge In Trump Case Could Be Removed If ‘Red Flag’ Is Seen, Legal Expert Says

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


There could be a massive change in former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case because of a move Special Prosecutor Jack Smith made at the start.

The special prosecutor chose to file the case in the Florida district of Judge Aileen Cannon, who has been criticized for giving the former president special treatment in a previous case.

But former US Attorney Joyce Vance said on her Substack page that their could be a kind of time bomb in the case that could see Judge Cannon removed from overseeing it.

The federal government has 70 days from when the former president was arraigned, per the Speedy Trial Act, but often there are some delays that are requested and granted that traditionally benefit the defendant, she said.

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But she believes that the Trump legal team will look to delay the trial until after the 2024 election, which Vance said would be unprecedented and a “red flag” if granted.

“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for Trump,” Vance said on her Substack. “He could agree to the December date, which he won’t do, at least not without the intention of asking for a continuance as that date gets closer. If Trump objects to a December trial and asks for a date after the first of the year, the government will undoubtedly demand a ruling that he cannot use rallies, campaign events, and primary dates as an excuse for further delay. Since it would be entirely reasonable, under the government’s proposed schedule, to try the case in December, if Trump asks for additional leeway and the Court grants it, there is no reason it shouldn’t come with conditions that ensure the people get their right to a speedy trial.”

Federal prosecutors have argued that “this case is not so unusual or complex…because it has only two defendants, involves straightforward theories of liability, and does not present novel questions of fact or law.”

“Unless Trump can identify one, it would be a red flag if the judge gave Trump preferential treatment, in terms of continuing to delay proceedings while campaigning, that other defendants can’t receive,” she said.

The government quickly gave the defense non-classified evidence to review as required by law in the discovery process and if Cannon agreed to delay it that would cause concerns, Vance said.

“There’s no legitimate reason for an extended delay before trial and certainly no reason to delay it until after the 2024 election, more than a year off,” the former US attorney said.

“A ruling to that effect from Judge Cannon would likely provoke renewed concern about her ability to handle the case in a fair and unbiased way. Expect Trump to make the motion, but a decision by the judge to move the trial that far off would be unprecedented,” she said.

The first delay in the trial was requested by Special Counsel Smith’s team.

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, initially set a court date of Aug. 14, but according to a filing by Smith, he wants that pushed back to Dec. 11, The Epoch Times reported.

“The request asks for the trial to be delayed by four months because there is classified information involved. To handle this information, Trump’s lawyers need to get security clearances, and that process takes time,” the outlet noted. “Interim security clearances are currently being processed and should be granted within 48 hours after Trump’s lawyers submit the required forms. However, obtaining the final clearance to access a few specific classified documents may take anywhere from 45 to 60 days.”

In order to obtain access to the classified information related to the case, Trump’s legal team must possess security clearances. According to Smith, he has discussed the matter with Trump’s attorneys, who have not raised any objections to the postponement of the trial date. That being said, it is expected that the former president’s lawyers will file their own motion outlining their reservations and objections to the dates proposed by the government, the outlet reported.

In his motion, Smith acknowledged that the government has been diligent in providing the defense with unclassified discovery materials, which includes “evidence gathered through subpoenas, warrants, grand jury testimony transcripts, witness interviews, relevant documents, and closed-circuit television footage obtained during the investigation,” The Epoch Times noted.

“Even with the prompt production the government has arranged, the inclusion of additional time for defense counsel to review and digest the discovery, to make their own decisions about any production to the government, and for the government to review the same, is reasonable and appropriate,” says Smith’s motion.

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