05/18/2024

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Valet Walt Nauta hands former President Donald Trump an umbrell

‘Injecting needless delay’: Jack Smith pillories new defense effort to delay deadlines in Mar-a-Lago case after Trump valet’s latest ‘excuse evaporated’

Valet Walt Nauta hands former President Donald Trump an umbrella before he speaks at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va., after facing a judge on federal conspiracy charges that allege he conspired to subvert the 2020 election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Special counsel Jack Smith on Friday implored the judge in charge of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents case not to give in to defense efforts to push back yet another set of deadlines.

A long-running discovery dispute over classified information is being misrepresented in court filings by one of the co-defendants in order to inject “needless delay” into the proceedings, the government alleges.

Earlier this week, the 45th president’s personal valet Waltine “Walt” Nauta, asked the judge for more time to disclose what classified information they plan to use and disclose during trial — as well as the expert witnesses they will call and what those witnesses will testify about. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon previously set a May 9 deadline for those disclosures. Now, the defense wants an indefinite delay on that front — and a potential hearing to talk things through.

The defense’s latest dilatory tactic blamed the FBI for failing to properly index certain documents removed from several boxes recovered at Trump’s Palm Beach property, arguing neither disclosure could be made until Smith’s office “accurately” produces “an index cross-referencing the purported documents with classification markings produced in classified discovery as against the slip sheets now in the physical boxes” and insisting: “that process will take time.”

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    Smith says those claims are bogus and essentially made up.

    “Originally, Nauta had counted on leveraging his counsel’s vacation and trial schedule to delay the proceedings,” the government’s filing reads. “But when his counsel’s trial schedule excuse evaporated, Nauta was forced to devise a new basis — that the Government’s discovery is insufficient for him to identify the classified evidence he wants to disclose at trial and to notice any expert testimony.”

    In a footnote in his latest filing, Trump’s co-defendant says that despite the stay of the other proceedings, the scheduling conflict was still viable because his attorneys needed time to confer with Trump’s own attorneys “within the secure location designated for the handling of classified materials in this matter.”

    Smith argues that regardless of the new version of the scheduling delay excuse, however, Nauta’s arguments also fail on the merits.

    More Law&Crime coverage: The Trump Docket: Trump tells Cannon that Bill Clinton ‘may still possess’ classified info while demanding Mar-a-Lago case dismissal

    “Nauta’s latest basis for delay is both factually wrong — the Government has afforded Nauta technical support, indexing, and material not required by the Federal Rules or provided in most criminal cases — and legally baseless: the shortfalls Nauta alleges do not impact preparing a CIPA Section 5 notice or a Rule 16 expert notice,” the government’s motion reads. “The Court should deny his motion.”

    To hear Smith tell it, the alleged discovery issues have nothing to do with the case and are examples of the defendant’s “gamesmanship.”

    “Nauta resorts to a familiar tactic by trying to paint a confusing and misleading picture of the state of discovery, but at bottom, his arguments are uncomplicated,” the government’s motion goes on.

    A recent defense motion claims Smith has not properly indexed certain documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago storage boxes which are “necessary for defense counsel to make either disclosure.”

    Smith, in turn, says Nauta was actually “provided that information many months ago.” Smith also says Nauta’s professed need to know “where the documents were within each box” in order to make the relevant disclosures “is recently manufactured and not credible.”

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    “Nauta’s difficulty meeting the Court’s deadline is entirely of his own making,” the government’s motion continues. “He has had information about which classified documents are located in which boxes for months, and failed to raise with the Government his current ‘issue’ about intra-box sequencing until over nine months after the boxes were made available to him — and then only after his primary excuse for delay (trial in another district) disappeared. Nauta’s disregard for the Court’s deadlines should not be rewarded with an extension.”

    As for the expert testimony issue, Smith says the defendant is being “ambiguous” about discovery culled from seized electronic devices. An alleged lack of such discovery, Nauta recently argued, compounded the argument that Cannon should not set “any deadline.”

    The prosecutor rubbishes this line of argument as fundamentally misleading.

    “The prospect of experts being at issue in this case has been apparent since indictment, and a scheduling order the Court propounded as early as July 2023 included expert notice deadlines for the Government and the defendants,” the opposition motion reads. “And the Government timely filed its expert notices in January 2024, nearly four months ago. Against this backdrop, Nauta’s lobbing an argument eight days before his notice is due that the Court should not have even set a defense expert disclosure deadline readily reveals his true purpose: injecting needless delay.”

    Read the government’s motion in full here.

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    The post ‘Injecting needless delay’: Jack Smith pillories new defense effort to delay deadlines in Mar-a-Lago case after Trump valet’s latest ‘excuse evaporated’ first appeared on Law & Crime.