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Federal judge sets May 2024 as the start of Trump classified docs trial

Special counsel Jack Smith had requested a start date of Dec. 11, while Trump's team said the trial should be pushed back until after the 2024 presidential election.
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The federal judge overseeing the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump has decided the criminal trial will begin May 20, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Judge Aileen Cannon announced the timing of the trial in a document filed in federal court Friday.

"The court rejects Defendant’s request to withhold setting a schedule now," Cannon wrote in her motion. She said the court "does not see sufficient basis on this record to postpone entry of a scheduling order."

She continued, "Nevertheless, the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial."

"While the government has taken steps to organize and filter the extensive discovery, no one disagrees that Defendants need adequate time to review and evaluate it on their own accord," Cannon wrote.

The timing of the trial is a few months after the period special counsel Jack Smith had requested, but is a blow to the former president, who wanted to delay the court proceedings until after the presidential election.

A Trump spokesperson said in a statement Friday that Cannon's decision is "a major setback to the DOJ’s crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process."

"The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax," Trump said. "Crooked Joe Biden is losing and attempting to use his weaponized DOJ against his top political rival — a disgraceful and un-American abuse of power. Crooked Joe will fail and President Trump will win back the White House for the American people."

Cannon's announcement comes after federal prosecutors and defense attorneys argued in favor of their preferred timelines at a hearing earlier this week in Fort Pierce.

Smith had requested a start date of Dec. 11, while Trump’s team said the trial should be pushed back until after the election.

Cannon, a Trump appointee, had initially scheduled the trial to begin Aug. 14.

In recent filings, special counsel prosecutors called for the case to proceed “expeditiously,” while Trump’s attorneys urged Cannon to postpone the trial until after Election Day 2024, arguing that the December trial date sought by the government would be “unreasonable” and “result in a miscarriage of justice.”

Trump faces 37 counts tied to allegations that he willfully retained national defense information, conspired to obstruct justice and made false statements. Walt Nauta, a former White House valet, faces six felony counts stemming from allegations that he helped the former president hide top secret national security files from investigators after leaving the White House. Both Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty.

Trump has also pleaded not guilty in another criminal trial, one that's scheduled to start in March. He faces 34 felony counts in Manhattan over allegations that he falsified business records related to hush money payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election.