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  • Writer's pictureGary Kelce | Aificial Politics

Judge indefinitely delays Trump classified documents trial

 

A federal judge has indefinitely postponed former President Donald Trump's classified documents trial in Florida. 


In an order Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon cited issues around pre-trial motions and classified evidence in the case. The trial start date was originally scheduled for May 20. 


Cannon wrote that the "finalization of a trial date at this juncture ... would be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court's duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court, critical Classified Information Procedures Act issues, and additional pretrial and trial preparations necessary to present this case to a jury." 


The special counsel declined to comment. 


US District Judge Aileen Cannon delayed former President Donald Trump's classified document case brought by special counsel Jack Smith indefinitely, in a huge win for Trump. Left: J. Scott Applewhite, File/AP, Center: Win McNamee/AP, Right: US Senate/AP 

Cannon's long-awaited scheduling order came more than two months after she heard arguments from legal teams representing Trump and special counsel Jack Smith. The former president's attorneys urged her to avoid taking the case to trial until after the upcoming 2024 presidential election, but they also conceded that if Cannon were to decide to move forward, August or September would be feasible. Prosecutors said they would be ready for trial in July. 


"The one thing the parties can agree on is this case can be tried this summer," deputy special counsel Jay Bratt argued in court in March. Cannon referred to some of the pretrial deadlines proposed by the Justice Department as "unrealistic" and said she needs space in the case to "allow for flexibility."


In the same hearing, Trump attorney Todd Blanche countered that the former president's civil fraud trial in New York, which began April 15, would mean Trump "cannot effectively prepare for this trial by July."


Blanche argued the "easy solution" would be to start the documents trial in late November, after the election, to avoid "working ourselves into almost a frenzy." Trump's team argued it was a form of "election interference" to have the case go to trial in the fall. Prosecutors rejected that assertion, telling Cannon that Justice Department guidelines against bringing charges close to an election do not apply to trials themselves, which are under the jurisdiction of the courts.


DOJ

Smith brought charges against Trump and two co-defendants — aide Walt Nauta and former Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos de Oliveira — in a sprawling indictment alleging Trump mishandled numerous documents with classified markings and worked with his aides to obstruct the subsequent federal probe.


All three have pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. 


The delay comes amid an ongoing dispute between Trump's legal team, his co-defendants and special counsel Jack Smith over the placement of classified records in evidence. Trump's attorneys have claimed in recent days that the markers for the classified records he is accused of mishandling were not properly placed in evidentiary boxes. 


Photo via Getty Images

The special counsel last week noted the discrepancy and has in the past revealed the documents were examined by relevant intelligence community agencies. The defendants say the discrepancies raise questions about the probe.


Smith has also charged Trump with four counts in Washington, D.C., stemming from his alleged effort to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election. Trump pleaded not guilty in that case as well. That case remains paused as the Supreme Court considers Trump's claims of presidential immunity. A decision from the high court is likely by June.


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