A federal judge ruled on Friday that former President Donald Trump will stand trial on May 20, 2024, on charges that he mishandled classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
“U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon appeared to split the difference between prosecutors’ request for a December 2023 trial date and Trump’s request to postpone the trial until after the November 2024 election,” Politico reported.
Fort Pierce will host the first pretrial hearing in the case involving Trump’s classified documents. After the nearly two-hour hearing in federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida, where attorneys for Trump pushed for an indefinite delay of a trial date, Judge Cannon said she would issue a written order “promptly.”
Trump’s attorneys argued they needed more time to prepare for what they characterize as a challenging case involving a substantial body of evidence. They contend that the former president won’t be given a fair trial before the 2024 election, where he is overwhelmingly the GOP frontrunner.
Prosecutors have proposed that the trial begins in December, saying the case is not complex and there’s no need for a lengthy delay. Prosecutor David Harbach told the judge that Trump’s legal team has repeatedly suggested he should be treated differently because he’s running for president,” Market Watch reported.
“The Department of Justice urged Cannon not to sign off on the Trump team’s desired delay. It was the first time arguments were held in front of Cannon in the unprecedented federal prosecution of the former president, who is also facing charges in a separate case in New York. Cannon has been under increased scrutiny since a court ruling last year that critics said was unduly favorable to Trump,” the outlet added.
Todd Blanche, one of Trump’s lawyers, told the judge that he disagreed with the prosecution’s claim that this case should be treated like any other given Trump is the leading candidate looking to run against President Joe Biden.
As such, Trump’s team argued before Judge Cannon that the trial should wait until after the November 2020 election.
“It is intellectually dishonest to say this case is like any other case,” Blanche said. “It is not.”
Judge Cannon, whom Trump appointed, seemed open to the arguments from Trump’s lawyers but did push to set some dates and a more concrete timetable.
“We need to set a timetable,” Cannon said. “Some deadlines can be established now.”
Judge Cannon also asked the prosecution if there had been any other cases with classified documents tried in such a short period of time.
Earlier this week, Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team filed a response to a request from Trump’s lawyers to delay his trial over alleged mishandling of classified documents until at least after the 2024 election.
Trump’s team filed its request with Cannon in southern Florida earlier this week, seeking an indefinite delay in the trial which resulted in 37 charges following an unprecedented FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022.
Last week, investigative reporter Paul Sperry claimed to have seen new evidence that the August 2022 raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate by the FBI was indeed “political” and called out Bratt by name.
“In another sign the Mar-a-Lago raid was political, the DOJ prosecutor who authorized it – DNC donor and Russiagate alum Jay Bratt – blacked out every reference to Trump cooperating with subpoenas from the publicly released search warrant affidavit, new court docs reveal,” he tweeted.
Trump has been charged with 37 counts of allegedly mishandling classified information by Smith.
Trump handily won the state of Florida in 2020. Now, that could work to his advantage when it comes to his federal trial for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
A new report details how the jury pool will come primarily from counties that Trump handily won in the 2016 and 2020 elections, which could work to his advantage when the trial begins on Aug. 14.
Cannon has signaled that the trial would take place in Fort Pierce, the federal courthouse where she usually sits, at the northern end of the Southern District of Florida.