Trump to face trial before election
Former US President Donald Trump will stand trial on charges of mishandling classified documents in May 2024, according to a court order issued on Friday. The date pushes the court hearings deep into the 2024 presidential race.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the trial to start on May 24. A pretrial hearing in the case will be held on May 14. The dates place the hearings after most state primaries, which are scheduled to be finished by mid-May, US media reports. Nebraska, Maryland, and West Virginia are expected to hold their primary votes on May 14, according to CNN. Oregon will hold its vote a week later, and a few other states, including New Jersey, will vote on June 4, the network added.
According to AP, the Republican presidential nominee might already be determined by the time Trump arrives in court, even though the official nomination takes place at the Republican National Convention in July 2024.
Two weeks ago, Trump’s lawyers demanded his trial be delayed until after the 2024 presidential election. The prosecutors also requested a four-month postponement and called for the trial to be moved to December 2023.
Cannon ruled on Friday that “the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial,” adding that the amount of evidence that needs to be examined in this case is “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,” she added.
Trump’s campaign has hailed the decision as a “major setback to the DOJ’s crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process.” The “extensive schedule” allows Trump and his legal team to “continue fighting this empty hoax,” it added.
The prosecutors did not comment on the decision.
Trump pleaded not guilty last month to 37 felony counts regarding his alleged mishandling of classified documents following his departure from the White House. The 300-plus documents were recovered by the FBI, some during a controversial raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last August. They reportedly included classified national security material related to nuclear secrets and the country’s defense capabilities.
Trump has argued that he had “every right” to keep the documents in question. He also told Fox News earlier that he had no time to return them when asked by federal officials.
The indictment saw Trump’s polling lead double over his closest rival for the Republican 2024 nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The former president was also polling ahead of the incumbent, Joe Biden.