US judge sets May 2024 start date for Trump classified document trial

US judge sets May 2024 start date for Trump classified document trial

US District Judge Aileen Cannon orders Trump trial to begin May 20, 2024

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Ex-US President Donald Trump's trial on charges of illegally retaining classified government documents will begin in May 2024, a federal judge ordered Friday.

The May 20, 2024 trial date set by US District Judge Aileen Cannon is not in line with the December start sought by the prosecution, nor the requested post-2024 election schedule Trump's team proposed.

The trial will now take place at the tail-end of the Republican primary nominating season as the party selects a challenger to presumed Democratic nominee President Joe Biden.

In a seven-page order Cannon said she agrees with the parties' legal teams that going forward with an originally-scheduled Aug. 14 trial would deny both the prosecution and the defense the time they need to adequately prepare their cases. That is due to the "voluminous" content that will have to be combed through, including what Cannon said is over 1,545 pages of classified documents and months of security camera footage.

But she disagreed with both parties’ proposed timelines.

"Discovery in this case is exceedingly voluminous and will require substantial time to review and digest in accordance with Defendants’ right to a fair trial," Cannon wrote, further noting that the nature of the classified documents poses extra challenges for legal proceedings.

Trump faces a 37-count indictment related to his alleged efforts to keep classified documents in his personal possession after he left the White House in 2021, and later efforts to thwart federal investigators from recovering them.

The former president has pleaded not guilty.

The investigation kicked off after the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of government files, including 184 classified documents, from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in January 2022. It subsequently handed them over to the FBI as it referred the matter to the bureau.

Additional records were recovered when FBI agents executed a grand jury subpoena in May 2022. But investigators believed additional documents were likely still at Mar-a-Lago, prompting the execution of a court-approved search warrant in August that led to 11 additional sets of documents being seized.

Trump is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and concealing documents from federal investigators, among other charges.

Trump has maintained that the case is politically-motivated, a charge denied by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was tapped to independently carry out the federal probe by US Attorney General Merrick Garland in November.

Smith has maintained the integrity of the case brought after a grand jury decided to indict the ex-commander-in-chief. A trial could be completed in as few as three weeks, Smith has said.

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