Attorney General Merrick Garland asserted in an interview Friday that former President Donald Trump’s trial in special counsel Jack Smith’s case against him should be quick as the 2024 presidential election approaches.

Smith has repeatedly endeavored to speed up the timeline of the case in order to maintain the scheduled March 4 trial date. Garland said he is in agreement with Smith about accelerating the trial in the interview with CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez on “CNN This Morning.”

“The prosecutions … were brought last year. The special prosecutor has said from the beginning that he thinks public interest requires a speedy trial, which I agree with,” Garland told Perez. “The matter is now in the hands of a trial judge to determine when the trials will take place.”

Perez brought up that the Department of Justice has policies about avoiding cases around elections, asking Garland if there would be a date where the trials concluding would be “too late.”

“The cases were brought last year. The prosecutor has urged speedy trials, with which I agree. And it’s now in the hands of the judicial system, not in our hands,” Garland repeated.

“Special prosecutors followed the facts and the law,” Garland responded to a question about whether the case should have been brought sooner. “They brought cases when they thought they were ready.”

District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan paused proceedings in Trump’s 2020 election case Dec. 13, pending the appeal of her decision not to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity.

However, prosecutors filed 4,000 pages of “additional discovery” on Dec. 17 and an “exhibit list” on Dec. 18, Trump’s lawyers noted in a recent 15-page filing. “Unstated, but obvious, is the prosecutors’ desperate effort to harass President Trump and prevent his likely victory in the 2024 Presidential Election,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Prosecutors responded in a filing that they submitted the documents “to help ensure that trial proceeds promptly if and when the mandate returns.”

CNN’s senior legal analyst Elie Honig explained in December that Smith’s Jan. 6 case may not be as speedy as desired because of Trump’s immunity appeal.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. It’s a constitutional issue. It’s an issue that we don’t really have precedent on, and that we need some guidance on,” Honig asserted. “I think they will take it up before the election happens. I’m not sure they’ll expedite it anymore, they may want to let it go through the Court of Appeals.”

“March 4 is in big trouble,” Honig added. “And keep in mind, it’s not just March 4. Jury selection starts Feb. 9, so even if the Supreme Court says, ‘We’re gonna take this, and we’re gonna expedite it to the highest degree,’ I don’t think they get it done by Feb. 9.”

Jason Cohen on January 19, 2024
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