Ex President Donald Trump Will Go On Trial Next Year For Manhandling Classified Documents
Former President Donald Trump will go on trial for alleged mishandling of classified documents in spring next year, a court has ruled.
Judge Aileen Cannon set the case for 20 May. Mr Trump had wanted the trial held after the November 2024 election. Prosecutors wanted it this year.
The high-profile case will begin with the election campaign in full swing.
Mr Trump, 77, faces serious charges over the storage of sensitive files at his Florida home.
Prosecutors say he illegally kept secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left office and obstructed government efforts to retrieve them.
The former president has maintained his innocence, lambasting the case as an attempt to destroy his election campaign.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Trump said that the trial date is a “major setback” to the justice department’s “crusade” against him.
“The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax,” the former president said.
On Friday, Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee, said the two-week trial would take place in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Jurors will be selected from around the Fort Pierce division, which includes several counties that Mr Trump won in 2020.
The former president pleaded not guilty to 37 federal counts during an arraignment in Miami last month.
Lawyers for both sides argued in the Fort Pierce court earlier this week over when the case should be held.
Prosecutors said the evidence was not complicated and there was no need to delay the trial. They wanted it to begin in December.
But lawyers for Mr Trump had argued that the “extraordinary” nature of the case required more time to prepare.
They said their client could not get a fair trial before the November 2024 election.
Opinion polls indicate Mr Trump is the runaway front-runner in the race to become the Republican party candidate who will challenge the Democratic nominee, in all likelihood President Joe Biden, next year.
In April, he was charged with falsifying business records in the state of New York.
Mr Trump announced this week that he expected to be arrested soon in connection with a federal inquiry into the US Capitol riot two years ago and his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.
State prosecutors in Atlanta, Georgia, are also investigating whether the former president broke the law with his attempts to overturn the poll results in that state three years ago.
Department of Justice-appointed special counsel Jack Smith is leading twin investigations into the Capitol riot and the Mar-a-Lago files.
In an indictment last month, his prosecutors alleged that when Mr Trump left office, he took about 300 classified documents to his oceanfront home in Palm Beach.
They say he stored the sensitive documents in several spaces, including a ballroom and a bathroom.
According to prosecutors, Mr Trump also told a personal aide, Walt Nauta, to move boxes containing classified files from a storage room at the resort before federal investigators came to look for them.
Mr Nauta is also charged in the case and has pleaded not guilty.
In New York, Mr Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for the alleged concealment of hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The former president faces a trial in that case on 25 March 2024.