Attorneys for former President Donald Trump on Sept. 27 filed court papers saying that more time is required to deal with procedures for reviewing classified information in the federal case in which the former president is accused of trying to overturn the 2020 election.
Those court papers also said that his attorneys were—for the first time—able to review classified discovery on Sept. 26 that was provided by special counsel Jack Smith's office.
"Our review was brief and preliminary," the motion read. "But it it is clear that President Trump is entitled to additional materials possessed by the U.S. intelligence community" and other White House documents.
But court officials, the lawyers said, told President Trump's team "that restrictions on one of the central documents in the Office’s classified production currently preclude us from writing to the Court or the Office about the document’s substance in connection with these anticipated applications," adding that they didn’t know when those restrictions will be lifted.
Two members of President Trump's team of attorneys also don't have the necessary security clearances to review or discuss the classified material, the court papers said.
"Third, as noted above, in light of restrictions on one of the central documents in the classified discovery, we are presently foreclosed from making applications to the Special Counsel’s Office or the Court relating to the substance of the document," his lawyers wrote. "Thus, although we anticipate transmitting discovery requests and motions to compel, we are not in a position to pursue those mechanisms as of this filing."
So far, the special counsel's office hasn't filed a response.
It comes after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said on Sept. 27 that she won't recuse herself from the election interference case, after the president's attorneys requested that she step down because of her previous statements about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach during sentencing hearings for defendants.
Judge Chutkan, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama, said in a written order that she sees no reason to step aside.
In seeking Chutkan’s recusal, defense lawyers cited statements she made in two sentencing hearings of participants in the Capitol breach in which they said the judge appeared to suggest that President Trump deserved to be prosecuted and held accountable. They said the comments suggested a bias against him that could taint the proceedings.
But in response, the judge objected to how her public remarks were described.
“It bears noting that the court has never taken the position the defense ascribes to it: that former ‘President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned,’” she wrote. “And the defense does not cite any instance of the court ever uttering those words or anything similar.”
Earlier this month, the former president's lawyers made reference to her statement during a sentencing that Jan. 6, 2021, "was nothing less than an attempt to violently overthrow the government, the legally, lawfully, peacefully elected government by individuals who were mad that their guy lost.”
According to the Trump team’s motion, the judge then stated: “[The] people who mobbed that Capitol were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man—not to the Constitution, of which most of the people who come before me seem woefully ignorant; not to the ideals of this country; and not to the principles of democracy. It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day."
The final comment, "remains free to this day," was highlighted by President Trump's attorneys in their motion. They argued that her comment suggested that he shouldn't be free, which also signals she may have a personal animus toward him.
“Public statements of this sort create a perception of prejudgment incompatible with our justice system. In a case this widely watched, of such monumental significance, the public must have the utmost confidence that the Court will administer justice neutrally and dispassionately,” his attorneys wrote.
The former commander-in-chief, meanwhile, is also under indictment in Georgia over his alleged efforts after the 2020 election, and he was charged also by Mr. Smith's team for allegedly mishandling classified documents in Florida. Prosecutors in Manhattan earlier this year charged him with allegedly falsifying business records relating to payments he made during the 2016 election.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has accused local and federal prosecutors of engaging in a politically motivated attack to prevent him from becoming president again.