Judge in Trump’s classified documents case expected to set trial date

1 March 2024, 13:04

Trump Classified Documents
Trump Classified Documents. Picture: PA

District judge Aileen Cannon has already postponed several dates in the case and signalled she would revisit the trial date at a hearing on Friday.

The federal judge overseeing the classified documents prosecution of Donald Trump is expected to set a trial date on Friday.

It is a crucial decision that could affect whether the former president and leading Republican candidate faces a jury this year on charges that he hoarded top secret records and hid them from government investigators.

The trial, in federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida, is currently set for May 20. But US District Judge Aileen Cannon has already postponed multiple dates in the case and signalled that she would revisit the trial date during a pivotal hearing on Friday.

Ahead of the hearing, federal prosecutors on Thursday requested a July 8 trial date. Defence lawyers said there was no way to hold a fair trial this year at a time when Mr Trump is looking to clinch the Republican presidential nomination but nonetheless proposed August 12 as a possible date to begin jury selection.

Pictures of the Week-Global-Photo Gallery
Former president Donald Trump kisses the American flag as he speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24 (Alex Brandon/AP)

The trial date has taken on added significance in light of the uncertainty surrounding a separate federal case in Washington charging Mr Trump with scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Supreme Court said this week that it would hear arguments in late April on whether Mr Trump as a former president is immune from prosecution, leaving it unclear whether that case — also brought by special counsel Jack Smith — might reach trial before the November election.

If the Florida classified documents case were to be postponed until after the election, and if the Washington election subversion case does not take place this year, that would mean voters would head to the polls without two blockbuster federal prosecutions — both alleging felony charges — being resolved by a jury.

The highly anticipated hearing is the first public one in months in the case. It comes as prosecutors have sought to lay bare the gravity of the allegations against Mr Trump and amid signs of simmering tensions between Mr Smith’s team and Judge Cannon on the question of whether names of potential witnesses in the case could be disclosed by the defence on the public docket.

Mr Trump faces 40 felony counts in Florida that accuse him of wilfully retaining after he left the White House dozens of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and then rebuffing government demands to give them back.

Trump Classified Documents
A police officer stands beside an entrance to the Alto Lee Adams Sr US courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Prosecutors in recent court filings have stressed the scope of criminal conduct that they say they expect to prove at trial, saying this week in one brief that “there has never been a case in American history in which a former official has engaged in conduct remotely similar to Trump’s.”

They allege, for instance, that wilfully Mr Trump intentionally held onto some of the nation’s most sensitive documents after he left office — only returning a fraction of them upon demand by the National Archives — and then urged his lawyer to hide records and to lie to the FBI by saying he no longer was in possession of them.

He is also charged with enlisting staff to delete surveillance footage that would show boxes of records being moved around the property.

Mr Trump and his lawyers have denied any wrongdoing. They asked the judge last week to dismiss the case, citing among other arguments the same immunity theory now being considered by the Supreme Court.

Among the issues issue expected to be discussed at Friday’s hearing is a dispute over whether defence lawyers can file publicly on the docket a substantially unredacted motion that would identify potential witnesses for the government and details of their expected testimony — information they were given by prosecutors under a protective order.

The judge initially permitted the defence lawyers to disclose the witness names, but after prosecutors urged her to reconsider and said she had committed a “clear error” she put the order on hold.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

‘Together we will win’: Netanyahu vows to fight off attacks from Iran after over 300 drones and missiles fired

Israeli's military have fought off a massive Iranian drone and missile attack - downing more than 200 weapons launched by the hostile state with the help of ace RAF pilots.

Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Plans have been drawn up for an evacuation of Brits from the Middle East. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (l) and protesters outside the British Embassy in Tehran (r)

Brits living in the Middle East could be rescued by the Royal Marines in 'Dunkirk-style' evacuation

The knifeman who killed six people in a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre has been named as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi (left)

Pictured: Sydney knifeman, 40, who killed six people before being shot dead by brave policewoman

Iranian drones and missiles have arrived in Israel with explosions in the skies - as officials warn of a "significant response" to the massive attack.

Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

USS Bataan which is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean (main) and Joe Biden (r)

US sends amphibious warship and 2,500 Marines into the Eastern Mediterranean after Iran attacks Israel

US and UK forces are helping defend Israel from Iranian drones and missiles after a massive attack was launched.

British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel

President Biden is holding an emergency national security meeting as the US prepares its response to Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel.

President Biden holds high-stakes emergency meeting as Iran launches full-scale attack on Israel

Iron Dome Rocket Interceptions of Hamas Rockets- Southern Israel- Night Attack On Ashdod City

Israel closes airspace as it braces for Iranian drone attack

Iranian attack drones are 'en route to Israel', according to an Israeli Defence Force spokesperson.

Iran launches massive drone and missile attack on Israel as war in Middle East escalates

A mother who was stabbed while trying to defend her baby from the Sydney shopping centre knifeman has been pictured for the first time.

Pictured: Mother, 38, killed defending her baby from Sydney shopping centre massacre

Election 2024 Decision Notes Alaska Wyoming

Biden wins Wyoming’s caucuses as eyes turn to Alaskan democrats

Hormuz incident

Iranian forces seize container ship near Strait of Hormuz

Russia Ukraine

Ukraine military chief warns of ‘significantly’ worsening battlefield situation

Obit Schappell Twins

Oldest living conjoined twins, Lori and George Schappell, die aged 62

Turkey Cable Car

174 people rescued almost a day after fatal cable car accident in Turkey