Web Stories Thursday, April 25

Two hearings Friday, one in Georgia and the other in Florida, could hold significant implications for former President Donald Trump and the criminal charges he faces for his actions around the 2020 election and retaining classified information after leaving office.

In Georgia, Trump and his co-defendants are delivering final arguments in their effort to have Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis disqualified from the case. In Florida, meanwhile, a federal judge could push back Trump’s trial date in the classified documents case.

Here’s what to watch in each.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon has told both parties to be prepared to discuss scheduling in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, including a request from Trump’s attorneys to hold a hearing over whether they can demand additional information from an assortment of federal agencies as well as from Joe Biden’s White House.

Special Counsel Jack Smith and attorneys for Trump proposed moving the trial later into the summer in court filings Thursday. Smith said he believes that Trump and his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliviera, should go to trial on July 8, 2024.

Attorneys for the three defendants proposed that Trump and De Oliviera’s trial begins on August 12, 2024, while Nauta’s trial begins September 9, 2024.

The Trump discovery gambit, if successful, could further push back the timeline for a trial while giving the former president more opportunity to promote his theories of political bias in the prosecution.

One of Trump’s primary legal strategies has been delay, and that includes playing his various cases against each other.

For Friday’s hearing in the documents case, scheduled for 10 a.m. ET, Cannon told both parties to be ready to discuss several legal issues, including whether the names of witnesses, FBI agents and others involved in the initial investigation should be redacted in filings from Trump’s team.

The hearing is likely to touch on the Justice Department’s efforts to prevent harassment and intimidation of witnesses — a persistent issue in cases against Trump — and to protect the jury selection process.

Smith has highlighted a myriad of threats made against individuals connected to the documents case, including witnesses, government employees, an FBI agent involved in the initial Mar-a-Lago search and two federal judges, including Cannon herself.

In his effort to gain access to White House records under Biden, including from the National Security Council and the White House Counsel’s Office, Trump asked to include documents and exhibits that would identify witnesses, government employees, agents and others connected to the case.

Prosecutors have asked for those names and other information, including from the grand jury investigations, to be redacted or sealed.

Trump and his two co-defendants – Nauta, an aide to Trump, and De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago property staffer – have pleaded not guilty in the case. Trump has been charged with several counts of willful retention of national defense information and obstruction. Nauta and De Oliveira face obstruction charges.

Defense attorneys in Fulton County will deliver their closing arguments as to why Willis should be dismissed from the election interference case against Trump and his alleged co-conspirators.

The 1:00 p.m. ET hearing in front of Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee will conclude defense attorneys’ days-long presentation into whether allegations around Willis’ romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade created a conflict of interest that should bar her from continuing to prosecute the case.

In three hearings over the past two weeks, defense attorneys have tried to bring witnesses and evidence that support their allegations against Willis, specifically that she financially benefited from the relationship and that it began before she hired him in late 2021.

Attorneys for Trump and his allies are expected to argue that Wade and Willis lied under oath about when their relationship started. To underscore that argument, defense attorneys will likely highlight Wade’s cell phone data which they claim shows he made several visits, including some late at night, to the area where Willis was living at the time before they say their relationship began.

McAfee has said he will allow a report from the private investigator working with Trump’s attorneys about location data from Wade’s phone to be used during Friday’s hearing. The investigator, Charles Mittelstadt, said he generated a report that isolated “all interactions,” including calls and text messages between Wade and Willis, which show “over 2000 voice calls” between the two prior to when they say their relationship began.

In a barrage of court filings and several in-court hearings, defense attorneys have argued that Willis started an improper romantic relationship with Nathan Wade before she chose him to helm the investigation and that they took luxury vacations in California, Belize and the Caribbean funded in part with taxpayer money Wade earned on the case.

During her own dramatic testimony, Willis said that she paid Wade back in cash for trips they took together. She and Wade both testified that their relationship began in early 2022, after Wade was selected as special prosecutor.

Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney Terrence Bradley, who was billed as the star witness for defense attorneys, failed to deliver the goods during his testimony earlier this week, repeatedly saying that he couldn’t recall when Willis and Wade’s relationship started.

In text messages reported by CNN, however, Bradley told defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant that the relationship began well before Wade’s appointment as special prosecutor – raising questions about Bradley’s credibility and the degree to which Merchant appeared to rely on his claims, which she was then unable to substantiate elsewhere.

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