The latest news in the criminal case against coup-attempting seditionist Donald Trump—and this would be the federal case filed in Washington, D.C., charging Trump with attempting to obstruct the 2020 election we're talking about, since Trump is under multiple indictments in multiple jurisdictions at this point—is another demand from Trump's lawyers that the federal government turn over basically every scrap of info related to the insurrection, from multiple branches of the government, because reasons. We'll go to The Washington Post for this one:
In court papers filed Monday, Trump’s legal team sought permission to compel prosecutors to turn over reams of information on the 2020 election and Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack from the FBI, national security and election integrity units of the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Capitol Police, the Defense Department, the D.C. police department, the National Guard, and members of Congress.
There's some surrounding hokum about how this is allegedly part of a Trump defense plan to show that the election was too stolen, or the violent insurrection he fomented was actually a false flag operation meant to make him look bad, and none of that matters even the slightest little bit. This is just another showboating delay tactic from Trump's lawyers, almost certainly on Trump's own orders, as he tries desperately to delay each of the trials against him until after the November 2024 elections and a possible election victory that would allow him to pardon himself for any federal convictions and simply ignore the charges in New York, Florida, and Georgia.
The point of dumping this 370-page dead whale on U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan's doorstep is that the judge now has to spend at least a little time cleaning it up, adding another delay to the trial. Trump probably won't even get that, though; by making the requests so broad and open-ended, he's made them easy for the judge to reject.
Here is a tip: Prosecutors aren't required to turn over information they don't have. They're also not obligated to do the defense team's work for them.
Federal criminal defendants typically can and often do file shotgun-blast requests for information in hopes of finding gaps in the prosecution’s case or at least slowing down the push toward trial. However, courts give U.S. prosecutors broad discretion to decide which evidence reasonably may be helpful to the defense and thus must be turned over. Their obligation to produce evidence is also limited to information available to the prosecution team — not everything known to the U.S. government at large.
The Trump move purports to demand that federal prosecutors turn over documents about the election and insurrection from every part of government, including the Defense Department and Congress, and ... no? Those are separate parts of the government. Trump would have just as much luck demanding that special counsel Jack Smith’s team turn over Walmart sales records for Lincoln, Nebraska. If his lawyers want to see Walmart’s records, it's on them to either go get them from Walmart or to convince the judge to issue a subpoena obliging Walmart to hand them over.
The team of government officials prosecuting Trump are not Mar-a-Lago butlers, obliged to swoop in and clean Trump's office windows, vacuum his rugs, and investigate all his latest conspiracy theories. They're responsible for building a case and sharing with the defense whatever documents or testimony they've collected in order to build that case. They are not magic document fairies who can be sent off to fetch documents from every other nameable government department and agency—documents they don't have, don't know about, aren't using, and which likely don't even exist.
There is the strong, strong stench of Donald Trump's personal paranoias on this one. The biggest clue that Trump's lawyers might just be sheepishly writing up whatever rambling new demands pop into Trump's head is the inclusion of a wacky new conspiracy theory that suggests maybe Mike Pence is in on the plot to prosecute him. Maybe Pence was turned.
Pence, Trump’s defense suggested, could have been motivated to align his story with prosecutors’ desires because of classified documents found at his home by his lawyer months after an FBI search of Trump’s residence and the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s home in Delaware and a separate think tank office. The Justice Department closed its investigation of Pence in June without charges.
Oh dear God, shut the hell up with this nonsense. Trump thinks Mike Pence is now working with prosecutors because Pence also had classified documents turn up in his home but, like nearly every other prominent public official in recent history, he didn't get indicted for it?
That's because, like all of those other non-indicted officials, Pence gave the documents back as soon as they were found! He didn't hide hundreds of them next to a toilet or in a utility closet while sending his lawyers out to give signed statements promising he didn't have them—absolutely no classified documents over here under the bathroom chandelier or by his bed or in his desk drawers. Donald Trump is such a dimwitted criminal that he still doesn't even know what he's actually been indicted for—and when other people don't get indicted because they didn't commit those crimes, he thinks it's a conspiracy against him!
Back to the matter at hand, though. Judge Chutkan already tossed a similar Trump team demand—one that would have subpoenaed members of the House in a supposed effort to find "missing" documents from the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 insurrection—and is not likely to spend as much time on this one as Trump might hope. It's a desperate move from Trump, but this particular desperate move won't result in the delay Trump has been trying for.
Not that he'll stop trying, of course. Give it a week, tops, and he'll be back with something else.
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