Former President Donald Trump has asked for a months-long delay before the start of the New York attorney general’s $250 million civil fraud trial against him, his three eldest children and the Trump Organization.
In a court filing on Friday, Trump’s lawyers argued that the current deadline for discovery in the case — March 20th — is unfair and unrealistic given the “staggering” amount of evidence they have to review from the office of Attorney General Letitia James.
“On December 2, 2022, the Attorney General produced several terabytes of data encompassing nearly 700,000 documents, more than 5.5 million pages of information, in addition to fifty-six witness and Defendant interview transcripts with corresponding exhibits,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.
While they’ve since pared that down to “nearly 275,000 documents and more than 2.6 million pages,” reviewing those documents will take “up to 11,000 working hours” to complete, they wrote, arguing that Trump would “suffer severe prejudice” under the “impossible” current schedule that has been “forced upon them.”
The lawyers added, “Defendants cannot possibly review the staggering volume of material, serve subpoenas, review subpoenaed materials, prepare for and conduct depositions — all within a three-and-a-half month period from the date on which Plaintiff produced its investigative file — and then prepare and present expert reports one month later.”
Trump’s legal team asked the judge to extend the deadline for fact discovery until late September and for expert witness discovery until December — two months after the trial is currently slated to begin.
If the judge signs off on the request, the trial would likely start in the early months of 2024, as presidential candidate Trump is vying in the Republican primaries.
James filed the sweeping lawsuit against Trump, his three eldest children, Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric, and the company in September. The civil suit is the culmination of a yearslong probe into the company’s business practices.
She alleged in the suit that they had been inflating their worth in financial statements to banks and insurers to the tune of billions of dollars, allowing them to get loans and deals they were not entitled to.
In addition to financial penalties, James’ suit seeks to permanently bar the Trump family from serving as officers of New York-based companies, and prevent Trump and his company from entering into commercial real estate acquisitions in the state for five years.
The judge presiding over the case, Arthur Engoron, denied Trump’s earlier requests for delays. Last month, Engoron said that the trial date would be Oct. 2 “come hell or or high water.”
NBC News has reached out to James’ office for comment on Trump’s request to delay the case.
In a letter last month, James office urged the judge against allowing any significant delays, noting the Trumps have a long history of using delaying tactics in the case and have been aware of the attorney general’s evidence given that it follows a lengthy investigation.
The Trumps’ “claimed hardship is self-inflicted,” Assistant Attorney General Colleen Faherty said in the letter. “Their pleas ring hollow and their delays should not be rewarded with more delay.”
Trump’s lawyers countered that comparable cases generally have a 15-month discovery deadline. They also pointed to Engoron’s November appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the Trump Organization’s financial transactions as one reason there shouldn’t be a rush to go to trial.
“There is simply not even arguable potential harm presented by the requested extension,” they argued.