NATIONAL NEWS

Judge sets a trial date for next May in Trump’s classified documents case in Florida

Jul 21, 2023, 6:42 AM | Updated: 10:44 am

News media wait outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse where their is a pretrial confere...

News media wait outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse where their is a pretrial conference to discuss procedures for handling classified information in the case against former President Donald Trump, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Fort Pierce, Fla. Trump is facing dozens of felony charges accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents and thwarting the Justice Department's efforts to get the records back. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge in Florida has scheduled a trial date for next May for former President Donald Trump in a case charging him with illegally retaining hundreds of classified documents.

The U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, is a compromise between a request from prosecutors to set the trial for this December and a bid by defense lawyers to put it off indefinitely until sometime after the 2024 presidential election.

If the date holds, it would follow close on the heels of 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. It also means the trial would 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.

In pushing back the trial from the Dec. 11 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 and likely to increase in the normal course as trial approaches.”

“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,” Cannon wrote.

In a statement referring to the Department of Justice, the Trump campaign called Cannon’s order “a major setback to the DOJ’s crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process. The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax.”

Trump could yet face additional trials in the coming year. He revealed this week that he had received a letter informing him that he was a target of a separate Justice Department investigation into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, an indication that charges could be coming soon. And 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.

The trial before Cannon would take place in a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce.

It arises 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 hide them from investigators who demanded them back.

Trump and Nauta have both pleaded not guilty.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

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Judge sets a trial date for next May in Trump’s classified documents case in Florida