Former US President Donald Trump is scheduled to stand trial on charges of mishandling classified documents in May 2024, according to a court order issued by US District Judge Aileen Cannon. This decision places the trial in the midst of the 2024 US presidential race, specifically after the majority of state primaries have taken place.
The trial is set to commence on May 24, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for May 14. Several states, including Nebraska, Maryland, and West Virginia, will hold their primary votes on May 14, while Oregon will hold its primary a week later. A few states, such as New Jersey, are slated to cast their votes on June 4. This timeline suggests that by the time Trump appears before the court, the Republican presidential nominee may already be determined, even though the official nomination is set to occur at the Republican National Convention in July 2024, as reported by CNN.
Two weeks ago, Trump’s lawyers requested a delay in the trial until after the 2024 presidential election. The prosecutors also sought a four-month postponement, proposing that the trial be rescheduled for December 2023. However, Judge Cannon denied these requests, stating that the proposed trial schedule was accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial. She emphasized that the amount of evidence to be examined in the case is significant and is likely to increase as the trial approaches. Judge Cannon determined that the interests of justice served by the continuance outweighed the desire for a speedy trial.
Trump’s campaign celebrated the decision as a major setback to the Department of Justice’s alleged campaign to deny him a fair legal process. They view the extensive trial schedule as an opportunity to continue fighting what they believe to be an empty hoax.
Regarding the charges, Trump pleaded not guilty last month to 37 felony counts relating to the mishandling of classified documents following his departure from the White House. The FBI recovered over 300 documents, including during a controversial raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August of the previous year. These documents reportedly contained classified national security material regarding nuclear secrets and the country’s defense capabilities. Trump has consistently maintained that he had the right to retain these documents and claimed that he did not have the time to return them when asked to do so by federal officials.
The indictment has had a significant impact on Trump’s popularity within the Republican Party. He has seen his polling lead over his closest rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, double. Additionally, Trump is currently polling ahead of the incumbent President, Joe Biden.
The prosecutors involved in the case have refrained from commenting on the court’s decision. The trial is expected to generate significant attention and scrutiny as it unfolds, coinciding with the highly anticipated 2024 US presidential race.