Trump Judge Indefinitely Postpones Documents Case Trial

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s criminal trial for allegedly mishandling classified documents has been postponed indefinitely in a blow to the Justice Department’s efforts to obtain a jury verdict before November’s presidential election.

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US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the criminal proceeding in Florida, set a new schedule for motions in the case and announced that the May 20 trial date will be pushed back indefinitely.

In an order issued Tuesday, Cannon said setting a new trial date at this time “would be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court.”

The decision represents a significant victory for Trump, the Republican presumptive nominee, who is facing four criminal cases and seeking to avoid having to go through multiple trials before the election. Trump is on trial in New York on charges he falsified business records to conceal “hush-money” payments to a porn star to keep her quiet about an alleged affair before the 2016 presidential election.

The office of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the classified documents case, declined to comment.

News of the indefinite postponement of the Florida trial, along with uncertainty about dates for two election interference cases in Washington and Georgia, raises the stakes for the hush-money trial under way in New York, which is expected to reach a verdict in June.

The new schedule from Cannon starts with a hearing this week on grand jury matters and runs until July 22, when a hearing will be held on the potential use of classified information during a trial.

‘Best Interest’

“The Court finds that the ends of justice served by this continuance, through the last deadline specified in this Order, July 22, 2024, outweigh the best interest of the public and Defendants in a speedy trial,” Cannon wrote.

If Trump becomes president again and a trial hasn’t concluded, he could take action to have the case dropped, such as instructing his attorney general to withdraw the charges, or pardoning himself.

Trump was indicted on 40 criminal charges for allegedly mishandling sensitive government documents and obstructing justice. He has pleaded not guilty and argued in court filings that he was entitled to take the documents with him when he left the White House because he deemed them to be personal belongings.

The case has been bogged down for months and the trial date was expected to be moved as the two sides battled over pre-trial motions and Cannon held off issuing rulings that would be necessary before a jury could be impaneled.

Cannon has come under intense criticism for failing to make timely decisions and for issuing rulings that favor Trump, increasing speculation that she never intended to move the case to trial this year.

Trump has also been indicted by Smith in Washington for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. A trial for that case was scheduled to begin in March, but has been on hold while the Supreme Court considers whether Trump should be immune from prosecution.

Trump also has been indicted by Georgia state prosecutors for attempting to overturn the result of the 2020 election in that state. A trial date for that case has not yet been scheduled.

(Updates with details of case timing starting in the eighth paragraph.)

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