Jack Smith blasts Trump lawyers’ ‘distorted claims’ seeking delay in documents trial

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team submits a filing saying former President Donald Trump’s lawyers used “distorted and exaggerated” claims in their motion to delay the classified documents trial until after the 2024 election. In Trump’s financial fraud civil trial, debate continues to rage over a tax appraiser’s valuation of Mar-a-Lago.

Classified documents

DOJ prosecutors: ‘No reason’ to delay Trump documents case

Key players: Special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Aileen Cannon, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise

  • In a court filing submitted Monday, Department of Justice lawyers told Cannon that Trump’s lawyers had made “distorted and exaggerated” claims in their request to delay the start of the classified documents trial until after the 2024 presidential election, CBS News reported.

  • “Their unfounded claims of Government noncompliance with discovery obligations do not support their request,” prosecutors in Smith’s office wrote.

  • In a filing last week, Kise argued that the trial’s May 20 start date should be moved back because lawyers had not been able to review all of the classified documents at issue.

  • On Friday, Cannon paused the deadlines for the review of classified documents in the case, potentially pushing the trial schedule back. She has yet to rule on whether to reschedule opening arguments.

  • Kise, who was hired by Trump in late August, has yet to receive the security clearance required to view 32 of the sensitive classified documents in the case, but prosecution lawyers noted in their filing Monday that four Trump lawyers and one legal analyst for the defense had already received clearances.

Why it matters: If Cannon grants a delay in the start of the trial, that would free up Trump to continue his presidential campaign rather than sit in court on 32 felony counts of willfully retaining defense information in violation of the Espionage Act and eight counts of obstructing the efforts to recover classified documents.

Financial fraud

How much is Mar-a-Lago worth, exactly?

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump lawyer Alina Habba

  • A contentious issue in the civil trial to determine the penalties Trump, his adult sons and his family business must pay for overinflating the value of their assets is the value of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, the Associated Press reported Monday.

  • Engoron relied upon a valuation done by the Palm Beach County tax appraiser’s office, which put the amount between $18 and $37 million for the club Trump purchased in 1985 for $10 million.

  • In court, Habba has repeated Trump’s claim that the property would sell for $1 billion or more if put on the market, earning a rebuke for Engoron.

  • Real estate professionals told the AP that the actual value is likely between $300 million and $600 million.

  • A private club, Mar-a-Lago charges a $500,000 initiation fee for members and annual dues of $20,000.

  • Mar-a-Lago’s tax bill is $602,000 this year, according to records, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Florida, is asking officials in Palm Beach County to examine Trump’s claim that the property should be valued at $1 billion, which would result in much higher annual property taxes.

Why it matters: Engoron has already ruled that the defendants are guilty of having inflated their assets. But the punishment in the $250 million suit brought by James will depend on an understanding of the amount Trump benefited from doing so.

Read more:

The Hill: Trump rips Forbes after removal from wealthiest Americans list

Associated Press: ‘My Pillow Guy’ Mike Lindell confirms he is out of money, can’t pay legal bills

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