US federal judge indefinitely delays Trump trial in Florida News
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US federal judge indefinitely delays Trump trial in Florida

US District Judge Aileen Cannon indefinitely postponed the classified documents criminal trial of former president Donald Trump on Tuesday, moving the trial date back at least two months.

Cannon vacated the previous May 20 trial date, finding that various pre-trial motions and issues regarding the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) need to be addressed first. She stated: 

[F]inalization of a trial date at this juncture – before resolution of the myriad and interconnected pre-trial and CIPA issues remaining and forthcoming – would be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court, critical CIPA issues, and additional pretrial and trial preparations as necessary to present this case to a jury.

The ruling established a second set of pre-trial deadlines, pushing back key dates for the court to manage pending discovery matters and adjudicate pre-trial motions. Cannon stated, “[T]he 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.”

The former president is charged with mishandling classified national security documents after leaving the White House and withholding the documents from federal authorities. The timing of the case has come under close watch as the November 5 presidential election nears and the other three pending cases against Trump continue through litigation. Trump’s attorneys previously urged Cannon to set the Florida trial date to after the election since Trump is expected to be the Republican nominee to face current president Joe Biden. His team also claimed that the prosecution’s case is “politically motivated” and that the trial could lead to election interference if it is held too close to Election Day.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, however, has denied claims of political motivation and argued that Trump’s team has used the other pending cases to delay the Florida trial. Smith stated that Trump chose to use the same counsel in various criminal proceedings, and therefore Trump and his lawyers “should not be allowed to use their overlapping engagements to perpetually delay trial in the case.”

In the four separate cases, there are a total of 88 criminal counts against Trump. He pleaded not guilty to all of them. In Manhattan, he is charged with falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment. That trial began last month, with the appeals court denying an effort to delay the case. Trump is also being charged with election interference in Georgia, though that court has not set a trial date yet. He is facing charges in a federal district court in Washington, D.C. for attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss as well, but that case is on hold until the Supreme Court rules on his claims of absolute immunity. 

Cannon’s ruling to delay the Florida case decreases the likelihood that Trump will face trial there before the November 5 election. A sealed hearing regarding grand jury matters is scheduled for today, May 8.