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Trump's Florida trial on secret documents will likely be postponed

Chris Strohm, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

A federal judge in Florida indicated Donald Trump’s trial for mishandling classified documents will likely be postponed from the current May 20 start date, putting his legal schedule in limbo as he campaigns again for the White House.

Judge Aileen Cannon indicated during a hearing with prosecutors and the former president’s lawyers Friday that the date will be pushed back, but didn’t set a new date during the morning session. The hearing was to resume Friday afternoon.

Trump is accused in the case of willfully retaining national defense documents and obstructing justice by evading government efforts to get the records back.

One of the reasons the judge cited for a possible delay is that Trump’s trial starts March 25 in New York, where the Manhattan district attorney charged him with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star before the 2016 election. Cannon said there are issues that need to be worked out before the classified documents hearing can start and Trump and his lawyers won’t have time to work on them during the New York trial.

The likely delay also may reflect Trump’s increasingly tight schedule as the Republican presidential candidate prepares for a busy summer of campaign stops and court appearances. He faces four criminal indictments in state and federal court.

During the hearing, prosecutors sparred with Trump’s lawyers over whether the Justice Department would violate its own rules by putting the former president on trial in the weeks before November’s election. Trump is currently the Republican front-runner in the race.

Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s team argued that holding a trial against Trump right before the election would not violate the policy of not taking any public actions that could influence an election outcome right before the vote.

 

“It does not apply to cases that have already been charged,” said Jay Bratt, the lead prosecutor handling the classified documents case.

Trump’s top lawyer, Todd Blanche, shot back, saying holding a trial right before the election would represent “complete election interference” and violate the department’s rules.

Justice Department officials have interpreted the policy as meaning 60 days before the election, although that’s not spelled out in the agency’s manual.

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(Bloomberg staff writer Erik Larson contributed to this story.)


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