Trump seeks delay of trial on mishandling classified documents

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks outside the courtroom on the day of a court hearing on charges of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn star before the 2016 election, in New York State Supreme Court in

By Andrew Goudsward and Andy Sullivan

FORT PIERCE, Florida (Reuters) -Donald Trump appeared in federal court in Florida on Friday to ask a judge to push back his criminal trial on charges of mishandling classified documents until the thick of the U.S. presidential campaign.

The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination looked on as his lawyers told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that the trial should be pushed back from May 20 to Aug. 12, which would have him in court in the weeks before the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Federal prosecutors said the trial should start on July 8, just a week before the Republican nominating convention, where Trump is expected to be named his party’s standard-bearer.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, did not indicate what date she would set.

Trump has sought to delay all of his four criminal trials as he campaigns for the presidency. If he were to win, he would be in a position to shut down this case and another that was brought under federal law.

His lawyers also say he cannot have a fair trial while running for president.

“We very much continue to believe that a trial that takes place before the election is a mistake and should not happen,” Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told Cannon.

Federal prosecutor Jay Bratt said the August trial start floated by Trump’s lawyers amounted to a “fake date”, aimed at interfering with two of the other criminal cases that could go to trial during that time.

Bratt said a summer trial would not conflict with a U.S. Justice Department policy that bars prosecutors from bringing charges against political figures shortly before an election, as Trump was indicted last year.

After the hearing, a crowd of Trump supporters chanted his name and waved banners as his motorcade departed the courthouse 130 miles (209 km) north of Miami.


Trump’s delaying tactics have yielded results.

A trial had been due to start on Monday on federal charges that Trump illegally sought to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, but that has been delayed indefinitely while the U.S. Supreme Court considers his argument that he should not be prosecuted for actions he took as president.

Trump is trying to get the classified documents case dismissed on similar grounds.

Another trial stemming from his attempts to overturn the election is also in limbo as a Georgia judge considers whether to remove the prosecutor, who has admitted to having an affair with a lawyer she hired for the case against Trump and others.

At this point, only one case is certain to go to trial before November. On March 25, jury selection will begin in a New York state court, where Trump faces charges of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn star prior to his 2016 election.

Trump could clinch the Republican presidential nomination before then and set himself up for a likely election rematch against Biden.

In the Florida case, Trump faces charges that he unlawfully kept classified information after leaving the White House in January 2021 and misled officials who tried to recover them.

The criminal cases pose political as well as legal risks for Trump, 77. According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, one in four Republicans and half of independent voters say they would not vote for Trump if he was convicted of a crime.

Trump is not the only former elected official to face accusations of improperly handling sensitive U.S. documents.

A federal prosecutor uncovered evidence that Biden knowingly took classified documents when he left the vice presidency in 2017, but opted not to bring criminal charges earlier this month, noting that he had cooperated with the investigation and a conviction would be difficult to obtain.


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