Jack Smith's trial timeline for Trump takes another hit

 March 3, 2024

A federal judge in Florida expressed skepticism on Friday regarding the feasibility of a plan by special counsel Jack Smith to bring former President Donald Trump to trial in July.

The charges against Trump involve allegations that he stored government secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office.

Cannon's view

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon did not immediately indicate whether she believes the trial could take place before the 2024 presidential election. However, during a crucial hearing, she expressed concern that the complex legal issues surrounding the classified evidence required for the trial could consume significant time over the next four months.

Trump's legal team emphasized that his ability to prepare for the Florida trial would be further hindered due to a separate criminal trial he faces in New York. The New York trial, which begins on March 25, is expected to last six weeks or longer.

While the classified documents trial in Florida is officially scheduled to start on May 20, Cannon is likely to postpone it. The duration of the delay remains uncertain.

Special counsel Smith proposed a new trial date of July 8, while Trump's lawyers argued that the trial should not proceed until after the election.

Timeline concerns

Cannon expressed concern about the proposed timeline, noting that it would compress pretrial arguments and deliberation into short windows. She stated, "To try to do 13 motions in a day or even two days seems unrealistic."

The political backdrop of the 2024 campaign is significant because if Trump is elected and the trial is pending, he could direct the Justice Department to terminate the case.

Cannon, however, avoided direct reference to the election during the hearing.

The judge appeared receptive to the defense's argument that various components of the federal government should be treated as part of the prosecution team, affecting the amount of evidence Trump and his co-defendants are entitled to. Cannon indicated a willingness to grant a hearing on this issue.

Keeping it confidential

During the afternoon session, lawyers debated the prosecution's request to keep witness names and statements confidential.

Trump and his co-defendants oppose this sealing. Cannon questioned the necessity of secrecy, expressing concern that it could hinder public access to important case details.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Cannon did not indicate when she would rule on the trial schedule or the secrecy issue.

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