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Judge declines to delay Trump’s trial in classified documents case

A federal judge on Friday declined to postpone the scheduled May start date for former President Donald Trump’s trial in Florida.

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Trump faces dozens of charges related to his handling of classified documents. Also charged are his aide, Walt Nauta, and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveria.

In July, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon tentatively set the trial to begin on May 20. However, Trump’s attorneys argued that prosecutors failed to meet their deadlines for producing documents, handing over only a fraction of what the lawyers were expecting and giving defense attorneys too little time to review the materials.

Prosecutors acknowledged that some pre-trial deadlines would have to be adjusted but argued against moving the trial date back, saying that “nothing material has changed since the Court set the trial date,” court records show.

In an order issued Friday, Cannon said the amount of evidence offered in the case, issues in getting defense attorneys the proper clearance to review documents and other factors delayed a review by lawyers for Trump, Nauta and De Oliveria.

“The volume and timing of these materials has outpaced initial estimates and required supplementation, both in the normal course and also to correct inadvertent omissions in the Special Counsel’s productions,” Cannon said.

The case involves 1.3 million pages of unclassified discovery, about 60 terabytes of closed-circuit television footage spanning at least nine months and 5,500 pages of classified discovery, court records show. The full scope of classified discovery was made available to the defense last month, “further contributing to delays in defense review.”

“Defendants need more time to review the discovery in this case,” Cannon acknowledged in her order. “This Order aims to afford that opportunity in a reasonable fashion, balanced against the public’s right to a speedy trial.”

She added that she will reassess the schedule again in early March.

The judge noted that there are likely to be challenges to the scope of the classified documents available to the defendants. Prosecutors aim to keep Trump from an unspecified number of documents, to withhold all but one page of classified records from Nauta and to hold all the classified information from De Oliveira, Cannon said.

Last year, authorities said they found more than 100 classified records during a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump, who is the front-runner in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has denied wrongdoing and framed the investigation and others focused on his conduct as part of a politically motivated witch hunt.

The former president is also scheduled to go on trial beginning March 4 in Washington, D.C., where he’s accused of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In a separate case in New York, where he faces allegations that he falsified business records during his 2016 presidential campaign, he’s set to go on trial beginning on March 25.