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Trump lawyers and special counsel prosecutors debate trial date in classified document case

A hearing is expected to include arguments about setting a trial date.
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on July 7.Charlie Riedel / AP

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon heard Tuesday from federal prosecutors and attorneys representing former President Donald Trump on charges that he mishandled sensitive government documents after he left the White House.

During the nearly two-hour hearing, Trump’s attorneys and prosecutors for the special counsel discussed how they will handle classified material in the case and how it would be presented at trial.

Trump's co-defendant, Walt Nauta, who was an aide to the former president, arrived at the courthouse before the hearing with his defense lawyers Stan Woodward and Sasha Dadan.

Cannon, a Trump appointee, said she will issue an order setting a trial date after she hears arguments from both sides, with the Justice Department in a recent filing calling for the case to proceed “expeditiously.”

Defense attorneys have urged her to delay the trial until after the 2024 presidential election, arguing that the scope of the indictment makes the timeline “untenable.”

“This extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy,” attorneys for Trump wrote in a recent filing. Trump is also the front-runner in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, another complicating feature. Prosecutors rejected the argument and called for Cannon to set a date for December.

Cannon cited the “voluminous discovery” and said she never found objections to the complex designation, which is what the prosecution says isn’t necessary.

The prosecutor acknowledged the schedule is “aggressive” but said that things could arise to complicate it and that they should still move expeditiously.

The hearing, at Cannon’s home courthouse in Fort Pierce, a small oceanfront city about an hour from Palm Beach, is the first step in an unprecedented case in which Trump and Nauta have pleaded not guilty. Trump did not appear Tuesday.

Trump faces more potential legal jeopardy from a separate grand jury investigation into allegations of effort to halt the transfer of power after the 2020 election signaling another indictment.

Shortly before the Florida hearing, Trump said on Truth Social that he received a target letter Sunday giving him four days to respond to the grand jury if he wants. He said the letter “almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”

Trump last month pleaded not guilty to a 37-count indictment that he mishandled classified documents after he left office; Nauta, a former White House valet, pleaded not guilty to six felony counts.

Both were arraigned in federal court in Miami.