Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump asked a federal judge on Monday night to indefinitely postpone his trial on charges of illegally retaining classified documents after he left office, saying that the proceeding should not begin until all “substantive motions” in the case had been presented and decided.
The written filing — submitted 30 minutes before its deadline of midnight on Tuesday — presents a significant early test for Judge Aileen M. Cannon, the Trump-appointed jurist who is overseeing the case. If granted, it could have the effect of pushing Mr. Trump’s trial into the final stages of the presidential campaign in which he is now the Republican front-runner or even past the 2024 election.
While timing is important in any criminal matter, it could be hugely consequential in Mr. Trump’s case, in which he stands accused of illegally holding on to 31 classified documents after leaving the White House and obstructing the government’s repeated efforts to reclaim them.
There could be complications of a sort never before presented to a court if Mr. Trump is a candidate in the last legs of a presidential campaign and a federal criminal defendant on trial at the same time. If the trial is pushed back until after the election and Mr. Trump wins, he could try to pardon himself after taking office or have his attorney general dismiss the matter entirely.
Some of the former president’s advisers have been blunt in private conversations that he is looking to winning the election as a solution to his legal problems. And the request for an open-ended delay to the trial of Mr. Trump and his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, a personal aide, presents a high-stakes question for Judge Cannon, who came into the case already under scrutiny for making decisions favorable to the former president in the early phases of the investigation. [Continue reading…]