Judge Aileen Cannon of the U.S. District in Southern Florida has set a May trial date in special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Trump over his handling of classified documents.
Cannon said jury selection would begin May 14 and a two-week trial period would begin May 20.
That timeline falls well into the 2024 GOP presidential primaries. However, during a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, Cannon reportedly appeared unsympathetic to the Trump team’s arguments regarding whether he can receive a fair trial while running for President.
Ahead of the hearing, Trump attorneys had submitted a court filing that said the special counsel’s requested December trial date was too soon, that it would deny them reasonable time to prepare, and they further asserted that the court should “postpone any consideration of a new trial date.” The filing made it clear that they opposed any trial that would start during the Presidential election season.
On June 13, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts brought by a Florida grand jury in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation. The charges include 31 counts for willful retention of national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as one count each of making false statements, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and a scheme to conceal.
The charges stem from Smith’s investigation into whether Trump broke the law in his mishandling of classified documents after an FBI raid had discovered hundreds of federal documents—many of them classified—at the former President’s Florida country club residence, Mar-a-Lago. Smith, a veteran career prosecutor, had received his appointment as special counsel from Attorney General Merrick Garland in November.
Previous rulings by Cannon, a Trump appointee, had already slowed the Department of Justice’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents post-Presidency. In December, an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel tossed her decision to appoint a special master to review the documents obtained during the FBI’s August 8 raid.