Trump’s Request To Delay Trial Until After Election Denied

A federal judge has ruled against former President Donald Trump’s request to postpone his trial until after the 2024 presidential election. The trial is now scheduled to commence on May 20, 2024, a time when most of the Republican Party’s primary and caucus voting will be completed.

The decision comes after Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee, considered arguments from both the prosecution and the defense during a hearing on Tuesday. She issued her ruling on Friday, scheduling the jury trial to take place in the Fort Pierce Division of the U.S. District Court in Southern Florida during a two-week period starting May 20, 2024.

Cannon’s ruling strikes a compromise between the demands of both prosecutors and the defense. Trump had urged for a delay until after the presidential election on Nov. 5, 2024, citing the former president’s busy campaign schedule, which will also be impacted by his March trial in a New York case.

Special Counsel Jack Smith, on the other hand, had initially sought for the trial to begin in December 2023, before any votes were cast in the presidential primaries and caucuses. 

Last week, David Harbach, one of Smith’s top deputies, drew attention to the need for treating Trump as an ordinary U.S. citizen in the case, rather than a former president. Harbach asserted, “Mr. Trump is not the president. He is a private citizen who has been lawfully indicted by a grand jury in this district, and his case should be guided by the federal code and the rules of this court like anyone else.”

Trump’s legal team, however, strongly disagreed with Harbach’s assertion, arguing that the case against him is unique and should not be equated with any other situation. In the defense’s words, it is “intellectually dishonest to stand up in front of this court and say this case is like any other.”

According to reports by The New York Times, jurors for the trial will be selected from counties where Trump had achieved significant victories in the last two presidential elections. Trump’s attorneys have voiced concerns that “publicity about the 2024 Presidential Election” could hinder the selection of an impartial grand jury. 

However, Cannon has not made a ruling on that yet.

Trump faces a 38-count indictment for allegedly retaining 31 classified documents at his Florida residence and private club, Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors claim that the former president had sought the assistance of his longtime aide, Walton “Walt” Nauta, in retaining highly classified materials despite efforts by the government to have him return them.

Many Republicans, including Trump himself, have said the case is politically motivated, as they draw comparisons between Trump’s case and the handling of classified documents by President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. Pointing to a double standard in the legal system, they suggest that the case is an attack by the administration on Biden’s strongest contender in the upcoming elections.