Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

There are updates in the cases and investigations involving former President Donald Trump. 

  • In the Mar-a-Lago documents criminal case, Trump’s valet and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, was finally arraigned after a weeks-long delay. Then, in a court filing this week, Trump’s legal team asked District Judge Aileen Cannon to delay the trial until after the 2024 presidential election. Trump’s attorneys wrote that, “Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication.” Special Counsel Jack Smith has proposed a December 2023 start date.
  • The Department of Justice has informed Trump that the government will not defend him in E. Jean Carroll’s ongoing defamation lawsuit against him. Under the Westfall Act, government officials are shielded from civil liability for conduct within the scope of their duties. Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr invoked the statute’s protections when Carroll first filed the lawsuit, and Attorney General Merrick Garland previously indicated that he would follow suit. Now, Garland has reversed course. In a letter, DOJ wrote that the alleged sexual assault and Trump’s comments were “obviously not job-related,” and therefore not covered under the Westfall Act.  
  • In Fulton County, Georgia, the grand jury that is expected to consider charges against Trump and his allies for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state has been sworn in. The jurors will serve for the next two months. 

The Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney who handled the Hunter Biden investigation has denied whistleblower claims that the Department of Justice stonewalled the investigation and retaliated against the whistleblowers.

  • Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss recently sent two letters to Congress denying allegations made by a pair of IRS agents. IRS special agent Gary Shapley testified to the House Committee on Ways and Means that, in his view, the evidence against Hunter Biden warranted more serious charges. Shapley also accused DOJ leadership of slow-walking the investigation, blocking charges from being brought in jurisdictions other than Delaware, and denying Weiss’s alleged request to be appointed special counsel. And Shapley accused DOJ leadership of retaliating against him for making these disclosures. A second, unnamed IRS agent provided similar testimony.
  • In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham, Weiss said that he did not request to be appointed special counsel. Weiss wrote, “[I]n this case, I have not requested Special Counsel designation…Rather, I had discussions with Departmental officials regarding potential appointment [as “special attorney,”] which would have allowed me to file charges in a district outside my own without the partnership of the local U.S. Attorney. I was assured that I would be granted this authority if it proved necessary.” He also said that he has “never been denied the authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction.”
  • And in another letter to House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan, Weiss rejected Shapley’s claim that DOJ retaliated against him. Weiss also reiterated that he had full control over decision-making in the investigation. “I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution,” Weiss wrote.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier made similar statements. At a recent press conference, Garland said, “As I said at the outset, Mr. Weiss, who was appointed by President Trump as the U.S. Attorney in Delaware and assigned this matter during a previous administration, would be permitted to continue his investigation and to make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to.”

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