Judge Aileen Cannon ruled that, for now, former President Donald Trump will still face a trial in May 2024 for mishandling classified documents.
The classified documents indictment weighs on Trump’s candidacy, particularly because of the questions it raises — with numerous known witnesses and even audio evidence — about how Trump casually handled information about national security after his presidency.
Trump has repeatedly pushed to move this and other federal criminal trials beyond the November 2024 presidential election, citing how busy his and his lawyers’ schedules are, his demands on the campaign electoral and the complexity of affairs.
Cannon appeared sympathetic and has currently pushed back some deadlines, including related to the use of classified documents in the case, until trial, according to his order issued Friday.
But the judge said she would reconsider other deadlines, including potentially a trial date in her court in early March, days before Trump is set to be tried for the first time as a criminal defendant in Washington, D.C., a separate federal case related to his actions after the 2020 election.
By the time the March 1 hearing rolls around, Cannon’s new schedule leaves few issues to discuss, allowing the trial to take place before the election.
Nonetheless, the judge noted in her Friday morning order that the case contained “an unusually high volume of unclassified and classified evidence” that Trump’s team would access from prosecutors to prepare for trial, and that
“More importantly, the amount of discovery in this case remains extremely voluminous, even more so than initially thought. Certainly, the special prosecutor took various steps to regularly obtain advance information. But even with these efforts, discoveries have increased significantly from initial estimates,” Cannon wrote in the order. “These evolving and unforeseen circumstances require a reevaluation” of how much time Trump’s lawyers have to review the evidence.
They can ask again later to move the trial date if they wish, the judge said.
Cannon also wrote that she understood how Trump’s team felt it was so overwhelmed by legal delays that it could not adequately prepare for the trial in Florida.
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“While the Special Prosecutor is correct that the trajectory of these cases remains potentially in flux, the timelines as they currently stand significantly overlap with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring that defendant Trump has sufficient time to prepare for the trial and to assist him. in his defense,” Cannon said.
Some of the work around classified evidence in this case can only take place in special facilities, called SCIF, in the Miami courthouse complex or elsewhere. Trump’s legal team has visited the site several times, with the former president joining them there for the first time early last week, according to a previous CNN report.
This story has been updated with additional developments.