FORT PIERCE, Fla. — The federal judge handling Donald Trump’s classified documents case has postponed the trial until May 20, despite pleas from the former president’s attorneys to wait until after the 2024 presidential election.
In a seven-page order released on Friday, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon said the “interests of justice” warranted a nine-month delay from the original August trial start date — a compromise between prosecutors pushing for a four-month delay and defense attorneys’ offer for an indefinite delay.
His decision follows a lengthy debate at the first pre-trial conference this week over whether Trump’s status as a presidential candidate warranted an indefinite delay. Cannon, like prosecutors, did not seem convinced that was the case.
She was also skeptical of the Justice Department’s proposed December 11 trial date, suggesting the complexity of the case called for a more measured approach. Justice lawyer David Harbach rejected the idea that the December date had been accelerated. He told Cannon that the right to a speedy trial need not be justified; only a diversion does.
Canon disagreed. In Friday’s order, she called prosecutors’ proposed timeline “atypically expedited and inconsistent with fair trial guarantees.”
Echoing defense attorneys, she pointed to the more than 1.1 million pages of unclassified finds the Justice Department has produced so far, at least nine months of video footage, and countless other pages of classified finds that have yet to be turned over.
The mountain of findings is likely to only grow as the trial nears, she said. The classified nature of some of them lengthens the ordinary path from indictment to trial.
A 38-count federal indictment charges Trump and his co-defendant, Walt Nauta, with mishandling classified documents and attempting to conceal them from federal investigators. Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Hannah Phillips is a reporter covering public safety and criminal justice at the Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Trial of Classified Trump Documents Slated for May Election Cycle, Mid-2024