Judge in Donald Trump classified documents case postpones trial indefinitely

Judge in Donald Trump classified documents case postpones trial indefinitely
Judge in Donald Trump classified documents case postpones trial indefinitely

The federal judge presiding over the criminal case related to Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents has postponed the Florida trial indefinitely, citing the need for “adequate preparation”.

In a filing on Tuesday afternoon, Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, scrapped the provisional May 20 date for the case to go to trial in Miami, and indicated she would not decide on a fresh date for some time.

The decision means the current “hush money” trial against Trump in Manhattan is more than likely to be the only one the presumptive Republican nominee faces before November’s presidential election.

In announcing her decision, Cannon said there were “myriad and interconnected” pre-trial issues to be resolved and that it “would be imprudent and inconsistent” to rush to hear the case.

Trump faces 40 charges in the case relating to his handling of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith alleged Trump tried to keep the material from authorities, including by storing boxes in a bathroom at the mansion.

The documents case, considered by some legal scholars to be the strongest of the four criminal cases brought against Trump, is one of a pair brought by Smith, who also charged the former president over his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

That case is stalled while the US Supreme Court decides on the scope of Trump’s immunity for acts committed while in office. A trial in a separate election interference case in Georgia has yet to be scheduled, after a delay caused in part by the withdrawal of a special prosecutor who had a romantic relationship with the district attorney.

The documents case has proceeded slowly as Trump’s lawyers have found a sympathetic ear in Cannon. Following a series of motions that made the initial May 20 trial date unfeasible, the former president’s legal team had recommended a new trial date of August 12, while reiterating their position that “a fair trial cannot be held until after the 2024 presidential election is concluded ”. Smith requested the trial start on July 8.

Neither of those dates now seem possible, with Cannon setting a series of pre-trial hearings well into late July.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The DoJ declined to comment.

The DoJ has a general policy against launching politically sensitive prosecutions within 60 days of an election. But a prosecutor told Cannon that a trial in that timeframe would not breach that unwritten rule because charges had already been filed.

If Trump is convicted, the maximum prison term for each of his 40 criminal counts ranges from five to 20 years.

Because the case is federal, some have speculated that Trump could attempt to pardon himself if he is elected president, or that he could at the very least attempt to influence the case via his appointees to the DoJ.

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