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Trump Seeks to Use NY Hush Money Trial to Delay Criminal Case Over Classified Document Handling In FL

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Former President Donald Trump is using his first criminal trial, set to begin Monday in New York, to try to delay facing a jury over more serious federal charges in Florida.

In the latest effort to capitalize on the colliding court schedules, Trump asked US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Saturday to push back a May deadline for reviewing classified evidence in the criminal case over his alleged mishandling of classified and sensitive government information stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Trump can’t meet the deadline, his lawyers said in a filing, because he’ll be on trial for state charges in Manhattan. That trial — over allegations that Trump falsified business records to conceal hush money payments to cover up an alleged affair with an adult film star before the 2016 election — could last into June.

But Trump and his primary defense lawyers, Todd Blanche and Emil Bove, can’t be in two places at once, they said.

“President Trump has a constitutional right to be present at the trial in New York and, as a result, cannot participate in this work relating to important parts of his defense,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing to Cannon.

As the former president’s legal team steps into the Manhattan courtroom Monday, work in the Mar-a-Lago documents case will grind to a near-total halt. The classified documents case has stalled in Florida federal court, and Trump’s defense team has already dramatically reduced the amount of time they’ve spent working on the criminal case over the last six weeks.

Cannon, who is overseeing the case, has not yet set a trial date, has few other deadlines on the calendar and has a backlog of legal disputes she has yet to resolve.

Moreover, the sensitive nature of information handled in the case makes it difficult for attorneys to continue any work outside Florida. The next phase of their work requires extensive discussions between Trump and his legal team in a secure facility in remote Fort Pierce, Florida, people familiar with Trump’s legal team said.

In the filing Saturday, Trump’s attorneys said that meeting the deadline to review evidence “will require lengthy classified submissions and extensive time in a SCIF to prepare and discuss those submissions, which is time President Trump and his attorneys simply do not have during the trial that is about to begin in New York.”

Federal prosecutors from the special counsel’s office are also attempting to keep up the pressure on the case in Florida, making clear to Cannon that they believe Trump’s team should be prepared for their arguments over classified records in the defense case already.

“They have had the classified discovery for months now … they are well steeped in it,” prosecutor Jay Bratt said in a March hearing, adding that the fight over classified documents is “what leads to how the case can be presented at trial.”

In his filing Saturday, Trump’s lawyers said that the special counsel’s office indicated that they “cannot agree” with the request to push back deadlines. (CNN)

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