WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a new interview that there should be "speedy trials" in the federal cases against former President Donald Trump, although he made clear that those dates will now be determined by the courts.
"The prosecutions that you're talking about were brought last year," Garland said. "And the special prosecutor has said from the beginning that he thinks public interest requires a speedy trial, which I agree with."
Garland added that trial judges will now determine when they take place.
Special counsel Jack Smith and his prosecutors have been pushing for the trials to take place as soon as possible ahead of the 2024 presidential election as Trump has been leading the Republican field to be the party's nominee. The former president and his legal team, however, have been trying to delay the court proceedings.
Asked if it might be too late to bring the trials to fruition given that the Justice Department has policies about steering clear of elections, Garland repeated himself.
"I'll just say, you know, what I just said. The cases were brought last year, the prosecutor has urged speeding trials with, with which I agree, and it's now in the hands of the judicial system, not in our hands," he said.
The attorney general appeared to dismiss the idea that Smith took too long to bring the cases against Trump.
"Special prosecutors follow the facts and the law," Garland said. "They brought cases when they thought they were ready."
Smith's office brought charges against Trump last year over his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results as well as over the former president's alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House.
The election interference case is currently scheduled to go to trial beginning March 4, but that could be postponed because of Trump's claim of presidential immunity from prosecution. A federal appeals court is expected to issue a ruling in that case in the coming days, which could determine whether that trial will start on time.
The trial for the classified documents case is scheduled to begin in May in Florida.