The trial of former U.S President Donald Trump over charges of mishandling classified documents is slated to commence in May next year.
On Friday, July 21, 2023, U.S District Court Judge, Aileen Cannon set the trial to begin on May 20, 2024. She oversees the Fort Pierce, Florida court.
The trial date, by Judge Aileen Cannon, is a compromise between a request from prosecutors to set the trial for this December and an attempt by defense lawyers to put it off indefinitely until sometime after the 2024 presidential election.
In court filings earlier in July, Trump’s legal team had argued that a December start date was not a realistic amount of time for either side to prepare.
His lawyers also questioned whether the former President would receive a fair trial before the election, while noting campaigning “requires a tremendous amount of time and energy”.
Trump is first former or current U.S President to face criminal charges.
In postponing the trial from the December 11, 2023 start date that the Justice Department had asked for, Cannon wrote that “the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial.”
She agreed with defense lawyers that the amount of evidence that would need to be sifted through before the trial, including classified information, was “voluminous.”
“The Court finds that the interests of justice served by this continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and Defendants in a speedy trial.”U.S District Court Judge, Aileen Cannon
The trial stems from a 38-count indictment last month, filed by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, that accused Trump of willfully hoarding classified documents, including top secret records, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and conspiring with his valet, Walt Nauta, to conceal them from investigators who demanded them back.
Trump and Nauta have both pleaded not guilty.
Date Follows Closely Behind Trump’s New York Trial
If the date holds, it would follow closely after a separate New York trial for Trump on dozens of state charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor.
He has been charged with 34 felony counts in the hush money case. That trial is currently set to begin in March of 2024. Trump pleaded not guilty in the New York state case in April.
The new date for the classified documents trial also means that the trial will not start until deep into the presidential nominating calendar and probably well after the Republican nominee is clear — though before that person is officially nominated at the Republican National Convention.
On Wednesday, July 19, 2023, a federal judge rejected a request to have the New York trial moved to federal court. Trump’s legal team had argued the change of venue was needed because the matter related to his duties as President.
However, the judge responded that the charges related to his personal, not presidential, conduct.
In other developments, Trump revealed on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 that he had received a letter identifying him as the target of a separate Department of Justice investigation into efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.
The scope of that investigation includes his actions before and during the attack on the U.S Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Also, prosecutors in Georgia plan to announce charging decisions within weeks in an investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to subvert the vote in that state.