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Judge sets a trial date for next May in Trump’s classified documents case in Florida

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By ERIC TUCKER

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Florida has scheduled a trial date for next May for former President Donald Trump in a case charging him with illegally retaining hundreds of classified documents.

The May 20, 2024, trial date, set Friday by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, is a compromise between a request from prosecutors to set the trial for this December and a bid by defense lawyers to put it off indefinitely until sometime after the 2024 presidential election.

If the date holds, it would follow close on the heels of a separate New York trial for Trump on dozens of state charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. It also means the trial will not start until deep into the presidential nominating calendar and probably well after the Republican nominee is clear — though before that person is officially nominated at the Republican National Convention.

In pushing back the trial from the Dec. 11 start date that the Justice Department had asked for, Cannon wrote that “the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial.” She agreed with defense lawyers that the amount of evidence that would need to be sifted through before the trial, including classified information, was “voluminous.”

“The Court finds that the interests of justice served by this continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and Defendants in a speedy trial,” Cannon wrote.

  • FILE – This image, contained in the indictment against former...

    FILE – This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records being stored on the stage in the White and Gold Ballroom at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023. (Justice Department via AP)

  • In this image from video provided by the U.S. Senate,...

    In this image from video provided by the U.S. Senate, Aileen M. Cannon speaks remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight nomination hearing to be U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 29, 2020, in Washington. (U.S. Senate via AP)

  • News media wait outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr....

    News media wait outside of the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse where their is a pretrial conference to discuss procedures for handling classified information in the case against former President Donald Trump, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Fort Pierce, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

  • Former President Donald Trump gestures before boarding his personal plane...

    Former President Donald Trump gestures before boarding his personal plane at Miami International Airport, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Miami. Trump appeared in federal court Tuesday on dozens of felony charges accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents and thwarting the Justice Department’s efforts to get the records back. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Former President Donald Trump boards his personal plane at Miami...

    Former President Donald Trump boards his personal plane at Miami International Airport, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Miami. Trump appeared in federal court Tuesday on dozens of felony charges accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents and thwarting the Justice Department’s efforts to get the records back. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Trump National...

    Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, N.J. Trump is facing 37 counts related to the mishandling and retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He plead not guilty to the charges in Miami federal court earlier Tuesday, alongside his co-defendant, valet Walt Nauta, and was released on his own recognizance without having to pay bail. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club...

    Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Tuesday, June 13, 2023, after pleading not guilty in a Miami courtroom earlier in the day to dozens of felony counts that he hoarded classified documents and refused government demands to give them back. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

  • Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club...

    Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Tuesday, June 13, 2023, after pleading not guilty in a Miami courtroom earlier in the day to dozens of felony counts that he hoarded classified documents and refused government demands to give them back. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

  • ADDS NAME OF PERSON AT LEFT – Former UFC fighter...

    ADDS NAME OF PERSON AT LEFT – Former UFC fighter Jorge Masvidal gestures towards former President Donald Trump as he visits Versailles restaurant on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Miami. Trump appeared in federal court Tuesday on dozens of felony charges accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents and thwarting the Justice Department’s efforts to get the records back. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, and U.S....

    FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, and U.S. President Donald Trump, center right, participate in a G-7 Working Session on the Global Economy, Foreign Policy, and Security Affairs the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. As Trump becomes the first former president to face federal charges that could put him in jail, many Europeans are watching the case closely. But hardly a single world leader has said a word recently about the man leading the race for the Republican party nomination.. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File)

  • FILE – People rally outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr....

    FILE – People rally outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. U.S. Courthouse, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Miami. As Trump becomes the first former president to face federal charges that could put him in jail, many Europeans are watching the case closely. But hardly a single world leader has said a word recently about the man leading the race for the Republican party nomination.. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

  • Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at his Trump National...

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at his Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump spoke at the golf club after he pleaded not guilty to federal charges alleging he hoarded classified documents detailing sensitive military secrets and schemed to thwart government efforts to get them back. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

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  • FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National...

    FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., June 13, 2023, after pleading not guilty in a Miami courtroom earlier in the day to mishandling classified documents. A pretrial conference Tuesday, July 18, to discuss procedures for handling classified information will represent the first courtroom arguments in the case before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon since Trump was indicted five weeks ago. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Trump could yet face additional trials in the coming year. He revealed this week that he had received a letter informing him that he was a target of a separate Justice Department investigation into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, an indication that charges could be coming soon. And prosecutors in Georgia plan to announce charging decisions within weeks in an investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to subvert the vote in that state.

The trial before Cannon would take place in a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce.

It arises from a 38-count indictment last month, filed by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, that accused Trump of willfully hoarding classified documents, including top secret records, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach and conspiring with his valet, Walt Nauta, to hide them from investigators who demanded them back.

Trump and Nauta have both pleaded not guilty.

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

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