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Trump legal team will be back in court for another hearing in D.C.


Lawyers for former President Trump have a date in court in Washington, D.C., today. They will argue with prosecutors and a judge over a side issue in the case surrounding Trump's effort to stay in office after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following the prosecution. Carrie, good morning.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's the focus of this hearing today?

JOHNSON: Well, there are so many documents in a prosecution like this one - grand jury testimony, witness interviews, evidence the Justice Department got through search warrants - and as part of the pretrial procedures in a normal case, prosecutors would need to turn over that material to Trump's lawyers. But they don't want to do it without an assurance that Trump won't post sensitive information about witnesses on social media. He's already, of course, gone after former Vice President Mike Pence, who may be a witness at this trial. And the special counsel has said it seems like one of Trump's strategies is to try this case in the press. The former president has been complaining about violations of his First Amendment rights, but there's no gag order in this case, just a warning not to threaten witnesses.

INSKEEP: So the prosecutors want some more restriction on what Trump would be allowed to say. When might the case itself go to trial?

JOHNSON: Yesterday afternoon, prosecutor Molly Gaston proposed a trial date for this case in D.C. Prosecutors want to start jury selection this December and to start the trial on January 2, 2024. Of course, that would be right around the three-year anniversary of the Capitol riot. Prosecutors say Donald Trump does have a speedy trial right, but so do the American people, especially in a case about efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters in 2020. Donald Trump has a few days to respond to that trial date proposal, but his lawyer has been pretty firm about wanting a lot more time to prepare. And he's planning all kinds of motions to try to throw out some evidence, maybe even try to move the trial out of Washington.

INSKEEP: This is all really interesting because the right to a speedy trial is for the defendant. But you say prosecutors are saying we, the public, America, has a right to a speedy resolution. And so there they are, proposing this trial to begin right before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary and some time before, of course, the conventions. How would this case fit in?

JOHNSON: You know, the special counsel says its part of this D.C. trial could take four to six weeks if it starts in early January. That would end well before the Republican convention in Milwaukee in July. Trump also has two trials scheduled in the spring. One of them is in Manhattan in March. That's, of course, over hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election. But the district attorney there, Alvin Bragg, recently suggested he might be accommodating and willing to postpone. Here's what Bragg told "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC.


ALVIN BRAGG: I've been a federal prosecutor, a state prosecutor, and now obviously local, you know. In matters like this, you know, judges will confer. And I take a very broad lens on justice. We'll obviously follow the directives of our court but won't sit on ceremony in terms of what was charged first or things like that.

JOHNSON: And Bragg says ultimately the judge will set the schedule. He'll follow the court's lead. And since this federal case in D.C. is widely considered to be the most serious, it may make sense for prosecutors and judges to make that one a priority.

INSKEEP: Can you help us understand another bit of news here? We have learned that the special counsel subpoenaed records from Twitter or the company formerly known as Twitter. What happened?

JOHNSON: Yeah, a lot's been going on for years now behind the scenes in this Justice Department investigation. A federal appeals court here in Washington upheld a ruling this week against X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Prosecutors apparently issued a search warrant for Trump's Twitter account, perhaps to look into his direct messages on and around January 6, 2021. The company X resisted and ultimately got fined $350,000. We may learn more about what Jack Smith was looking for and what he found if any of this comes out at the eventual trial. I'm going to be keeping my eyes peeled.

INSKEEP: We are listening to the correspondent formerly known as NPR's justice correspondent...

JOHNSON: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: ...Who is also currently known as NPR's justice correspondent - Carrie Johnson. Thanks so much.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.

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