A request Monday from Donald Trump’s aide and co-defendant Walt Nauta to delay a Friday hearing in the classified documents case was met with sharp opposition from special counsel Jack Smith, who said in a court filing that such a postponement was an “unnecessary” delay.
The spat highlights how even the most incremental, procedural developments in the historic federal criminal case against Trump and Nauta could become mired in disputes – especially when it comes to scheduling as prosecutors want to go to trial in less than six months and Trump lawyers have been adept at delaying other legal fights he’s facing.
In Nauta’s filing requesting the delay, the Trump aide did not propose a new date for the hearing, which is scheduled to occur before US District Judge Aileen Cannon in Fort Pierce, Florida, and will cover how certain issues around the classified materials in the case will be handled.
Nauta cited a bench trial that his main lawyer, Stanley Woodward, has in Washington, DC, this week as the reason for proposing a delay.
Smith fired back in his filing that Nauta has provided no reason why his Florida-based lawyer, Sasha Dadan, couldn’t handle the hearing.
“An indefinite continuance is unnecessary, will inject additional delay in this case, and is contrary to the public interest,” the Smith team said in their filing.
In a new filing later Monday, Trump’s defense team and the special counsel’s office said July 18 would be an agreeable date for the first appearance before Cannon on classified information procedures. The hearing will not be on the schedule until the judge orders a date.
Nauta and Trump also face a deadline Monday for filing their response to the special counsel’s proposal that the trial begin in mid-December. Smith has already previewed that the defendants have some objections to that proposed date.
In the fight over when the coming hearing on classified procedures should take place, Nauta claims he had “little notice” that prosecutors were going to bring the charges in the Southern District of Florida – where he would be required to have an attorney licensed in the Sunshine State – and said his DC attorney’s initial inability to get notices from the docket until then hampered his efforts to flag the scheduling conflict.
Nauta also raised his defense team’s lack of security clearances as an issue, while claiming that it was not reasonable to expect his new Florida-based attorney to take the lead on the matters slated for discussion at Friday’s hearing “barely a week after she has been retained by Mr. Nauta.”
Smith’s team shot back that Woodward, the DC-based lawyer, has yet to fill out the form required in the security clearance process.
“Almost a month has passed since the grand jury returned its indictment. There is a strong public interest in the conference occurring as originally scheduled and the case proceeding as expeditiously as possible,” the Smith team said.
While Trump entered his not guilty plea in the case on June 13, Nauta was only able to enter his not guilty plea last week due in part to delays in retaining a Florida counsel.
This story has been updated with additional developments.