Trump Docs Trial Set For May 2024 At Height Of White House Race

A federal court in the United States ordered Donald Trump’s trial for mishandling top-secret documents to begin in May of next year, during the height of what is sure to be a fierce and divided presidential election campaign.

The former president’s jury trial, the first ever to face criminal charges, will begin on May 20, 2024, according to US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon.

Prosecutors wanted the trial to start in December of this year, while Trump’s lawyers wanted it to start after the November 2024 election.

Cannon stated that she picked a May start date to allow both parties time to process more than 1.1 million pages of discovery material and face the issue of dealing with the case’s classified documents.

“No one disagrees that Defendants need adequate time to review and evaluate it on their own accord,” said Cannon, a Trump appointee who was randomly assigned to the high-stakes legal battle.

The trial will take place at a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, roughly 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Miami, in a portion of Florida that Trump easily carried in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Trump, 77, is the Republican presidential frontrunner, and the trial will begin around the end of the party’s primary process to select its nominee.

The Republican National Convention, where the nominee will be chosen, will be held in Milwaukee from July 15 to 18, however most of the key primary battles will have already taken place by May 20.

A Trump spokesperson welcomed the judge’s decision not to start the trial in December, calling it a “setback to the (Justice Department’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,” the spokesperson said.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said the judge, in choosing a May start date, appeared to be trying to “split the difference” between the requests of the prosecutors and the defense attorneys.

Trump may still seek to push back the start even further, Tobias said, since he has a “penchant for delaying virtually every legal proceeding in which he has been involved over decades.”

“He sees delay as his ‘friend,’” Tobias said.

The trial will not stop the onetime reality television star from campaigning, but a criminal defendant is generally required to be present during the proceedings, which are expected to last weeks, if not months.

If the trial is ongoing and Trump wins the November 2024 election, he could conceivably take action to intervene or even pardon himself upon taking office.

Trump aide also charged 

Trump pled not guilty last month to a slew of criminal charges, including allegedly refusing to return sensitive government papers he took with him when he left the White House in 2021.

According to special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment, the former president kept hundreds of secret documents in cardboard boxes at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

According to the indictment, Trump stored papers from the Pentagon, CIA, National Security Agency, and others unprotected at Mar-a-Lago, including in a ballroom, a bathroom, his bedroom, and a storage room.

Trump faces 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information” relating to specific documents. A conviction on each count carries up to 10 years in prison.

Other charges include: conspiracy to obstruct justice, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; withholding a document or record, which also carries a potential 20-year sentence; and making false statements.

Waltine “Walt” Nauta, a personal aide to Trump, is charged with six counts for helping Trump hide documents at Mar-a-Lago. He has also pleaded not guilty.

Nauta, a 40-year-old US Navy veteran from Guam, worked as Trump’s military valet when he was president and has continued to work for him on a personal level since his departure.

Trump, who was impeached twice for misconduct while in office and was recently found responsible for s-x-ual abuse, has promised to run for President in 2024 regardless of the outcome of the papers case.

Trump also faces other legal issues, including a possible indictment from Smith for attempting to overthrow Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory.

Trump is also charged with several felonies in a New York fraud case regarding alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

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