Florida judge indefinitely postpones Trump documents trial

 

When former US President Donald Trump posed for a photo with former communications director Hope Hicks outside of the Oval Office before making his way to board Marine One on the South Lawn and departing from the White House on March 29, 2018. [AFP]

A Florida judge on Tuesday indefinitely postponed Donald Trump's criminal trial over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, making it unlikely the case will be heard before the November presidential election.

The former president had been scheduled to go on trial on May 20 but District Judge Aileen Cannon said that was not possible because of the number of pre-trial motions before the court.

Cannon, a Trump appointee, did not set a new date for the start of the federal trial.

The postponement is a major setback for special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges against Trump, and makes it unlikely the case will be heard before the election now less than six months away, in which Trump is the Republican presumptive nominee for president.

Trump's attorneys have sought to delay his various criminal cases until after the election when the 77-year-old Trump could potentially have the federal charges against him dropped if he wins.

Trump is currently on trial in New York on state charges of falsifying business records to pay hush money to a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump pleaded not guilty in Florida last June to the federal charges of unlawfully retaining national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.

He kept the classified files -- which included records from the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency -- unsecured at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida and thwarted official efforts to retrieve them, according to the indictment.

Cannon, in her order, said the sheer number of pre-trial motions and the classified nature of some of the evidence in the case made it impossible to stick to the May trial date.

"The Court therefore vacates the current May 20, 2024 trial date," she said.

A new date would be "reset by separate order following resolution of the matters before the Court, consistent with the Defendants' right to due process and the public's interest in the fair and efficient administration of justice," Cannon said.

In addition to the New York and Florida cases, Trump has also been charged in Washington and Georgia with trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden, his likely November opponent.

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