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Updated Jul 21, 2023, 10:28am EDT
North America

Trump classified documents trial set for May 2024

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S., July 7, 2023. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
REUTERS/Scott Morgan
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The News

Federal judge Aileen Cannon has set the date for Donald Trump’s classified documents trial to begin on May 20, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The former president will be tried on 37 counts related to the alleged mishandling of sensitive documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort after leaving office.

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Know More

On July 10, Trump’s legal team asked Cannon to postpone any trial date “until after substantive motions have been presented and adjudicated.” They argued that the unprecedented nature of the case calls for a measured timeline, and that Trump’s 2024 candidacy will take up a lot of his time.

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Department of Justice prosecutors fiercely opposed Trump’s request, saying in a filing that there is “no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the defendants provide none.”

Trump’s team had sought a date after the 2024 election, but prosecutors had hoped to see the former president on trial before the end of this year.

Cannon’s ruling on Friday said that she had granted the government’s motion to continue the trial and resetting deadlines “in part.”

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Trump faces a second, unrelated trial in New York in March, for alleged hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. The timing means Trump will have just one month between trials.

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Insights

  • Cannon’s choice of trial date reflects her “skepticism” with both the DOJ and the Trump team’s proposals, said Bloomberg’s senior legal reporter Zoe Tillman. The May 20, 2024 trial date — assuming there are no more delays — “means DOJ won’t get to try the case this year as they’d hoped, but it’s a significant setback for Trump, who was angling for a postelection delay,” Tillman tweeted.
  • There would be “complications of a sort never before presented to a courtif Trump is on trial during the final stretch of the 2024 election, The New York Times reported. If the trial is after the election and Trump wins, he could pardon himself or have the case dismissed. “Some of the former president’s advisers have been blunt in private conversations that he is looking to winning the election as a solution to his legal problems,” The Times reported.
  • Trump isn’t the first defendant to claim that they have a busy schedule, or that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury for their case, former federal prosecutor Mary McCord told The Washington Post. But she agreed that the December trial date that Special Counsel Jack Smith is pushing for is “pretty fast for a case that includes classified information to actually get to trial.” While “it is an aggressive schedule,” it’s not completely unreasonable, she said.
  • The early proceedings were a “renewed test of what Cannon will let Trump get away with,” Amherst College law and political science professor Austin Sarat wrote in Slate. Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge, made previous rulings in the case that were sympathetic to Trump’s argument that the probe is politically motivated. That worried some analysts who feared Cannon would side with his efforts to delay the trial.
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