A US judge on Friday ordered the trial of Donald Trump for mishandling top secret documents to begin in May next year, when a bitter and divisive presidential campaign is expected.
US District Court Judge Eileen Cannon set the start of a jury trial for the former president – the first person to face criminal charges – for May 20, 2024.
Prosecutors had asked for the trial to begin in December this year, while Trump’s defense lawyers requested that it be held after the November 2024 election.
Canon said it was resuming the trial in May to give both sides time to process more than 1.1 million pages of documentary evidence and to face the challenge of handling the classified documents at the center of the case.
“Nobody disagrees that the defendants need sufficient time to review and evaluate on their own,” said Cannon, appointed by Trump.
Trump, 77, is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, and the trial will begin at the end of the primary campaign to select the party’s nominee.
The lawsuit will not prevent the one-time reality television star from campaigning, but as a criminal defendant, he will be required to be present during the proceedings, which are expected to last weeks if not months.
Trump last month pleaded not guilty to dozens of criminal counts of allegedly mishandling some of the government’s most sensitive secrets and conspiring to prevent his return.
Trump has been charged with 37 criminal counts for refusing to hand over government records he will take with him when he leaves the White House in 2021.
According to the indictment of special counsel Jack Smith, the former president moved hundreds of classified documents in cardboard boxes to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
The indictment says Trump kept the files – which included Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency records – unsecured at Mar-a-Lago, where large social events were regularly held.
It said the documents were hidden in various locations on the property including the ballroom, bathroom, Trump’s bedroom and storage room.
– Trump’s aide also accused –
Trump is charged with 31 counts of “knowingly withholding national defense information” related to specific documents. A conviction on each count could lead to up to 10 years in prison.
Other charges included: conspiracy to obstruct justice, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; withholding a document or record, with a possible sentence of up to 20 years; And making false statements.
Waltin “Walt” Nauta, a 40-year-old US Navy veteran from Guam and Trump’s personal aide, has been charged with six counts of helping Trump hide documents at Mar-a-Lago. He has also declared himself innocent.
Nauta served as Trump’s valet while he was president and continued to work for him in a personal capacity after he left the White House.
Trump, who was twice impeached for misconduct while in office and was recently found guilty of sexual assault, has vowed to remain in the race for the 2024 White House regardless of the outcome of the documents case.
Trump faces other legal problems, including an impending indictment from Smith over the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump also faces multiple felony counts in a New York fraud case involving alleged secret money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV Staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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