By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia
Judge Aileen M. Cannon has rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to delay his confidential documents trial until after the 2024 election.
Instead, Cannon announced on Friday that the trial date for the charges of illegally retaining dozens of classified documents will begin on May 20, 2024.
The decision arrived following what’s been described as a contentious hearing at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where prosecutors from the special counsel’s team and lawyers representing Trump clashed over the trial’s timing.
The judge took a middle position, pushing the start date past the Justice Department’s request for a trial in December but refusing to postpone it after the 2024 election, as Trump had hoped.
Trump is the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
Cannon clarified that the trial would not be moved to another location. Her scheduling order includes a series of hearings throughout the remainder of this year and into next year, with a particular focus on handling the classified material central to the case. Trump’s legal obligations to attend court likely intersect with his campaign schedule, making the case highly consequential.
Trump made his initial court appearance on Tuesday, June 13, where he pleaded not guilty to 37 charges related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents.
The charges brought against Trump involve the illegal retention of national defense information and the concealment of documents, with potential violations of witness-tampering laws during the ongoing investigation.
Trump’s close aide, Walt Nauta, also faces charges related to a conspiracy to obstruct the federal investigation.
Nauta has also pleaded not guilty.
The former president is also facing more than 30 felony charges related to alleged financial crimes in New York, and prosecutors in Georgia have seated a grand jury to determine whether to indict Trump on charges related to obstructing the 2020 presidential election. Jack Smith, the special counsel, has also empaneled a federal grand jury in Washington where Trump acknowledged receipt this week of a target letter implying that he could be indicted on charges related to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.