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Trump wants to delay his trial until after the election

A closeup of former President Trump
Former President Trump listens as he speaks with reporters on his plane after a March campaign rally at the airport in Waco, Texas.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
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Donald Trump wants to delay his trial on federal criminal charges until after the 2024 election.

The former president faces charges of illegally retaining classified documents.

But Trump’s attorneys have asked the federal judge presiding over his trial to delay proceedings until after decisions on “substantive motions.”

Trump’s “extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy,” his lawyers wrote in a court filing. The former president, they say, is a top candidate in the election and is up against his chief political rival, President Biden, whose Justice Department is prosecuting Trump.

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(Biden officials have said the White House is not interfering in the case.)

The attorneys asked for “a measured consideration and timeline” to serve the interest of both Trump and the public.

Hello, I’m Erin B. Logan. I cover national politics for the Los Angeles Times. This week, we are going to discuss Trump’s legal troubles and his efforts to postpone what could prove to be his most consequential criminal trial.

Why delay?

Trump has been in hot water with the federal government ever since he left office. When the former president departed the White House in 2021, he took with him dozens of classified records, some of which contained some of the nation’s most precious secrets.

Government officials had tried in earnest to get those records back. They went as far as to search his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to retrieve documents. The retention of these records, which included military secrets intended only for the nation’s closest allies, and knowingly sharing them with people who didn’t have the clearance to see them, are clear violations of federal law, prosecutors contend. (Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 37 felony counts.)

Justice Department prosecutors have asked that the trial begin as soon as Dec. 11. U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is presiding over the case, had previously scheduled the case to begin in August.

Cannon, whom Trump appointed in 2020, will now have to determine when the trial will begin. If she reschedules it until after the election and Trump wins, he could test whether he has the authority to pardon himself — or could simply push the Justice Department to drop the case.

The latest from the campaign trail

— Few Republicans have high confidence that votes will be tallied accurately in next year’s presidential contest, according to a new poll that suggests years of sustained attacks against elections by Trump and his allies have taken a toll, the Associated Press reported.

— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed Biden’s reelection campaign, sending a strong sign of Democratic unity from one of the party’s most progressive members, the Associated Press reported.

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— Age remains a sensitive subject, at least publicly, among California’s political glitterati, Times writer Benjamin Oreskes reported. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced earlier this year that she wouldn’t seek another term, it appeared to clear the path for a younger person to take over. But if Rep. Barbara Lee were to win the 2024 Senate race, it could soon leave the Democratic Party in the same predicament it’s faced with Feinstein.

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The view from Washington

— Biden and fellow leaders of NATO nations are coming together this week and extolling their remarkable unity in backing Ukraine in its war with Russia, Times writers Tracy Wilkinson, Courtney Subramanian and Laura King reported. But serious differences over expansion of the transatlantic alliance threaten to disrupt the harmony and turn the annual summit on its head.

— Rep. Grace Napolitano, a veteran California lawmaker and the oldest member of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced that she would not seek another term in Congress during an event in her district Saturday to honor her career, Times writers Seema Mehta and Hannah Wiley reported.

— Citing a “grave and growing” danger, the Biden administration plans to unite dozens of countries in a coalition to battle the production and trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in the U.S. and abroad, Times writer Tracy Wilkinson reported.

The view from California

— In California, state officials have been criticized for their response to extreme heat, which disproportionately affects children and the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, disabled people and those who are pregnant, Times writer Hayley Smith reported. The $20-million “Heat Ready CA” campaign, launched by Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s team on Tuesday, aims to help rectify that through improved outreach, advertising and communication efforts.

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