Trump-appointed judge hints she may delay classified documents trial

Former president’s legal team claimed it would take 10 years to go through all the evidence in the case

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 02 November 2023 09:20 EDT
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The Donald Trump-appointed judge overseeing the criminal case into his handling of classified documents has now hinted that she may delay the trial – after the former president’s legal team claimed it would take 10 years to go through all the evidence in the case.

In a court hearing in Florida on Wednesday, US District Judge Aileen Cannon – who has repeatedly sided with Mr Trump since being handed the case – cast doubts on it being realistic that the trial can go ahead as planned in May.

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

She also appeared to scold prosecutors, saying that they lacked “a level of understanding to these realities” around the current timeline.

Mr Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly complained about the breadth of evidence in the case claiming it will take 10 years to review discovery from prosecutors – and claiming that Justice Department prosecutors have not given them proper access to classified evidence.

The former president’s attorneys have also complained that the timing clashes with his slew of other criminal cases. The federal election interference case in Washington DC is currently slated to begin in March and could last a number of months.

Mr Trump’s team has asked the judge to push the trial back until at least November 2024, the same month that Mr Trump is hoping to reclaim the White House.

Prosecutors meanwhile have asked that the trial start date of 20 May 2024 goes ahead as planned.

Mr Trump was initially indicted on 37 federal charges in early June over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, becoming the first current or former US president ever charged with a federal crime.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment in a Miami federal courthouse. His longtime aide Mr Nauta was also charged in the case as his co-defendant.

In a superseding indictment filed in late July, Mr Trump was hit with three new charges and a third defendant – Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira – was added to the federal criminal case.

Prosecutors now allege that Mr Trump even went as far as to plot with two employees to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago in his quest to hide the classified documents – and what exactly he was doing with them.

While Judge Cannon did not issue a ruling in court on Wednesday, she has repeatedly sided with Mr Trump and dealt blows to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team.

In a ruling in August, she struck down two of Mr Smith’s court filings seeking to keep documents sealed to preserve the “grand jury secrecy” in the case – and gave him a dressing down over his use of grand juries.

Last year, the judge previously sided with Mr Trump’s request to appoint an independent special master to review the documents in the classified papers case before they could be handed to the DOJ.

The decision was branded “deeply flawed” by Mr Trump’s own former attorney general Bill Barr and was later thrown out by an appeals court.

Judge Cannon was appointed to the bench during Mr Trump’s final days in office – and has faced calls to step aside from the case.

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