A federal judge in Florida has scheduled a trial date for next May for former President Donald Trump in a case charging him with illegally retaining hundreds of classified documents.
The May 20, 2024, trial date, set Friday by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, is a compromise between a request from prosecutors to set the trial for this December and a bid by defense lawyers to put it off indefinitely until sometime after the 2024 presidential election.
If the date holds, it would follow close on the heels of a separate New York trial for Trump on dozens of state charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. It also means the trial will not start until deep into the presidential nominating calendar and probably well after the Republican nominee is clear — though before that person is officially nominated at the Republican National Convention.
In pushing back the trial from the Dec. 11 start date that the Justice Department had asked for, Cannon wrote that “the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial.” She agreed with defense lawyers that the amount of evidence that would need to be sifted through before the trial, including classified information, was “voluminous.”
“The Court finds that the interests of justice served by this continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and Defendants in a speedy trial,” Cannon wrote.
Trump could yet face additional trials in the coming year. He revealed this week that he had received a letter informing him that he was a target of a separate Justice Department investigation into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, an indication that charges could be coming soon. And prosecutors in Georgia plan to announce charging decisions within weeks in an investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to subvert the vote in that state.
The trial before Cannon would take place in a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce.
It arises from a 38-count indictment last month, filed by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, that accused Trump of willfully hoarding classified documents, including top secret records, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and conspiring with his valet, Walt Nauta, to hide them from investigators who demanded them back.
Trump and Nauta have both pleaded not guilty.