Trump seeks records about evidence handling in latest bid to delay documents case

Former U.S. President Trump's criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records continues in New York

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump demanded that federal prosecutors reveal details about how they handled boxes seized during a search of his Florida home in 2022 as he seeks to delay the case accusing him of illegally holding onto classified documents, according to a court filing made public on Tuesday.

Lawyers for the former president asked prosecutors to turn over documents about their process for cataloging and storing material in boxes taken by the FBI during its search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

The new demands came after prosecutors working with Special Counsel Jack Smith acknowledged in a court filing on Friday that material in some of the boxes is not in the same order as it was when it was analyzed shortly after the August 2022 search.

That admission was contrary to what prosecutors had previously told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who is overseeing the case.

The prosecution is one of four Trump faces as he challenges Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election. Trump has repeatedly sought to delay the cases against him until after the vote.

Prosecutors have said the search turned up more than 100 classified documents stashed around Mar-a-Lago, leading to criminal charges against Trump last year. Trump and two co-defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Smith’s team said the discrepancy may be tied to a review of the material by a neutral arbiter, who was tasked with analyzing the boxes as part of a lawsuit Trump brought. It could also be the result of different-sized objects becoming mixed up in the boxes, they said.

Trump’s lawyers suggested in a letter filed in court that prosecutors had not appropriately handled evidence central to the case. The demand for more documents was an indication Trump’s legal team may use the issue to further delay the case.

Trump’s lawyers have already sought an array of records from the intelligence community and other federal agencies as they attempt to build a case that the prosecution was a politically motivated effort by the Biden administration.

Cannon, despite rejecting two Trump attempts to dismiss the charges, has shown an openness to claims in his defense. The judge on Monday postponed a key deadline related to classified evidence at Trump’s request.

A trial date remains uncertain.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone, Alexandra Hudson)