Judge delays Trump classified documents case indefinitely


US – A United States judge in Florida has postponed indefinitely former President Donald Trump’s trial on charges that he illegally kept classified documents after leaving office. US District Judge Aileen Cannon said that Trump’s trial would no longer begin on May 20, but she did not set a new date for proceedings to start, casting further doubt on whether he will face trial before the November election when he hopes to win the presidency for a second time.

Trump faces dozens of charges accusing him of illegally keeping top secret documents that he took from the White House in 2021 after losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden. Also accused of obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get the papers back, Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. The prosecution and defense had both acknowledged that the May date trial would probably need to be delayed, given still-unresolved issues in the case and because Trump is currently on trial in New York in connection with alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. The New York case involves several of the same lawyers who are representing Trump in the Florida case. Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, scheduled pre-trial hearings to take place until July 22. She said it would be “imprudent” to set a new trial date given the uncertainties. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought case, has proposed proceedings begin in July.

Trump’s lawyers have said it should not start until after the November 5 election, although suggested an August 12 date in response to an order from Cannon to propose a timeline for the case. Trump’s lawyers have worked to delay all four criminal cases he faces. The other two cases relate to his alleged attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 election – he has already been charged in a Georgia state court over the allegations while the Supreme Court is weighing Trump’s arguments that he is immune from federal prosecution in a separate case brought by Smith. “We’re in this absolutely unprecedented situation where a defendant is potentially going to have the power to shut down his own prosecution,” said George Washington University law professor Randall Eliason, an expert in white-collar criminal cases. “That’s an argument for getting the case to trial before the election.” Trump has sought to portray all the legal cases against him as politically motivated. The charges in the Florida case include violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalises the unauthorised possession of national defense information, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to investigators. Cannon has denied two attempts by Trump to dismiss the charges, but several remain pending.

(Al Jazeera)…[+]