Judge signals she may postpone Trump’s trial in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case

Judge signals she may postpone Trump’s trial in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago document-mishandling case cast doubt on the viability having a trial in May 2024, signaling she may postpone the criminal proceedings.

During a hearing Wednesday in south Florida, US District Judge Aileen Cannon raised concerns that the defense team wouldn’t be able to complete trial preparations between now and the spring as they handle other cases for Trump and a stacked trial schedule.

“I’m having a hard time seeing how this work can be accomplished realistically in this period of time,” Cannon said.

Cannon told Justice Department prosecutor Jay Bratt, who asked to keep the trial schedule as is: “I’m not seeing in your position a level of understanding to these realities.”

Cannon did not issue a ruling in court on Wednesday.

In addition to questioning the defense team’s access to evidence in the case, Cannon repeatedly questioned if the current trial schedule would unfairly bump up against the federal election interference trial of Trump, which is set for March in Washington, DC.

Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly complained to the judge in the Mar-a-Lago criminal document-mishandling case that they haven’t had proper access to classified evidence in the case as they prepare for a trial next May.

Those complaints have evolved into the Trump team asking Cannon to postpone the trial “until at least mid-November 2024.”

“After four months of delay, we were allowed to review for the first time documents that are critical to some of the serious felony charges” that special counsel Jack Smith has filed, Trump’s lawyers wrote to the court two weeks ago.

Attorneys for Trump and his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, employees who are accused of helping him mislead federal officials, have long aimed to push the criminal trial and other trials Trump faces next year past the election, citing his ongoing presidential campaign, busy court schedule, and what they call the Justice Department’s “rush to trial.”

The classified records indictment has loomed over Trump’s candidacy particularly because of the questions it’s raised – with substantial known witnesses and even audio evidence – about how casually Trump treated national security information that could damage the United States if accessed at his club and about his unwillingness after his presidency to comply with regulations around presidential records.

Cannon, a Trump appointee, has so far given Trump’s team some of the leeway they’ve asked for in the documents investigation.

Trump, Nauta and De Oliveira have pleaded not guilty.

The special counsel’s office is arguing to Cannon to keep the dates as set. The defense teams have access to more than 1 million pages of information in the case, according to court filings.

In a filing last week, prosecutors told the judge Trump’s team has cried wolf about their access to evidence in the case, including classified records. They’ve had access since early October, the prosecutors said, but only received the records more than a week later at a secured facility in Miami.

Trump’s legal team has been reviewing and discussing classified evidence in Miami, most recently on Tuesday, when the former president joined his lawyers in the SCIF during the afternoon, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Also about a month ago, Trump’s team wanted thousands of pages of evidence it already had from the investigation given to them again, so that they could see where copies of classified documents in a box stored at Mar-a-Lago may have existed among other documents, to “ascertain where the pages had been stored,” prosecutors said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

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