Trump Lawyers Demand That The Government Stop Trying Trump In Absentia

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s lawyers were working their chaos magic late into the night yesterday with another gonzo filing in the DC election interference prosecution. But this time they’re taking a break from complaining that prosecutors are hiding evidence to accuse them of illegally producing it. Ho ho ho!

On December 13, Judge Chutkan stayed all deadlines in that case pending resolution of Trump’s appeal on the ground of magical presidential absolute immunity. Then last week the special counsel moved simultaneously for expedited review by the DC Circuit and certiorari before judgment by the Supreme Court. Naturally, Trump described this as “banana republic” stuff and deprivation of due process.

The DC Circuit set oral argument for January 9, and the Supreme Court has ordered Trump to respond by Wednesday to the special counsel’s petition. But in the meantime, prosecutors are still turning over discovery in hopes of keeping this case on track to go to trial in March or shortly thereafter, as they promised to do when they agreed not to contest the stay.

Last night prosecutors filed a two sentence Notice of Service:

The Court has determined that the deadlines in the Pretrial Order are “held in abeyance.” ECF No. 186 at 2. Nonetheless, to help ensure that trial proceeds promptly if and when the mandate returns, the Government today provided the defendant with the Government’s Draft Exhibit List. See ECF No. 39 ¶ 8 (“The parties shall exchange lists of exhibits they intend to use in their cases in chief by December 18, 2023.”).

And two hours later, Trump’s lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche issued an off-the-charts pissy response, calling it “illegal” for the government to send over documents while the stay is pending:

Over the last two days, the prosecution has improperly and unlawfully attempted to advance this case by serving thousands of pages of additional discovery, as well as a purported “Draft Exhibit List.” These actions, the prosecution admits, are calculated to “help ensure that [a potential] trial proceeds promptly if and when the mandate returns.” Doc. 188. Such maneuvers are exactly what the Stay Order forbids, and impose a significant and prohibited burden on President Trump. As the Court has recognized, this case may not proceed in absentia, but rather must stop.

John Lauro is hoppin’ mad that prosecutors sent him discovery, because that is trial in absentia, and you can’t make him read it, so there. And while he’s throwing a tantrum about prosecutors handing over discovery too early, he’s also threatening to get them in BIG TROUBLE MISTER for their late production:

Finally, we note that, based on the Production Letter, the prosecution possessed at least some of the identified materials before filing the indictment. To the extent the prosecution withheld such materials for strategic or other improper purposes, we will address this issue with the Court in the event the Stay Order is one day lifted.

It must be exhausting to engage in this kind of histrionics several times a week. But Lauro still had a little bit of crazy left in the tank. He also requested en banc review of the gag order barring Trump from attacking witnesses in the case, which was just upheld by the DC Circuit.

“This petition presents a question of exceptional importance: Whether a district court may gag the core political speech of the leading candidate for President of the United States—disregarding the First Amendment rights of over 100 million American voters—based on speculation about undefined possible future harms to the judicial process,” he vamped theatrically.

Can’t wait to see what absolute insanity he’s got in store tomorrow when he’s got to explain to the justices why they really shouldn’t take up that issue of presidential immunity he’s been saying is a slam dunk and will end this witch hunt once and for all.

No rest for the wicked!

US v. Trump [District Docket via Court Listener]
US v. Trump [Circuit Docket via Court Listener]

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes the Law and Chaos substack.

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