Judge indicates she may delay Trump trial on charges he hid classified documents at Mar-a-Lago
Nov 1, 2023, 1:49 PM
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge in Florida indicated Wednesday that she may delay the start of the classified documents trial of Donald Trump, pointing to the other criminal cases the former president is facing as well as the mounds of evidence his attorneys need to review.
Trump’s trial on charges that he hid classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and obstructed government efforts to get them back is currently scheduled for May 20, 2024.
But U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appeared ready to side with Trump’s attorneys in their request to postpone the trial, saying she “has a hard time seeing how realistically this (current schedule) would work” even as prosecutors pushed her to keep the scheduled start date.
The classified documents case filed by special counsel Jack Smith’s team is one of four Trump is facing that could go to trial next year. Another federal case, also brought by Smith and charging him with scheming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, is scheduled for trial in March in Washington.
A trial in Georgia on state charges that Trump tried to subvert the election could also start next year, though no date has been set, as could a New York trial on charges that Trump falsified business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn actor in advance of the 2016 election. He is already on trial on a civil case in New York alleging business fraud.
Cannon also pointed to the 1.3 million pages of evidence that prosecutors in the Mar-a-Lago case have provided to the defense along with thousands of hours of security video shot at Trump’s resort. She questioned whether Trump’s lawyers will have adequate time to review the evidence in the next six months.
“I am not quite seeing a level of understanding on your part to these realities,” Cannon told prosecutor Jay Bratt, a member of Smith’s team.
Bratt told Cannon that Trump’s attorneys from the beginning have pushed to delay the trial until after the November 2024 election, where he hopes to win back the White House from President Joe Biden.
He said that because of defense motions to delay the Washington trial and dismiss those charges, there is a chance that trial will be postponed.
He told Cannon she “should not let the D.C. trial drive the schedule here.”
He said his team has provided Trump’s lawyers with a directory to the Mar-a-Lago documents to assist their preparation and advised them of the portions of security video they plan to play at trial — footage that prosecutors have said shows boxes being moved in and out of a storage room at the property in an effort to conceal them from investigators.
A Trump valet, Walt Nauta, and a Mar-a-Lago property manager, Carlos De Oliveira, have been charged alongside Trump with conspiring to obstruct the FBI’s investigation. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Trump attorney Todd Blanche told Cannon that she and prosecutors need to be realistic, particularly since the classified documents can only be read in special government rooms that have heightened security.
“It has been extremely difficult to have access,” Blanche said.
Cannon said she will make a decision on the trial date in the coming days.
Tucker reported from Washington.