Trump says he can’t get fair trial this year in classified documents case

By Thomson Reuters Feb 29, 2024 | 5:12 PM

By Andrew Goudsward

FORT PIERCE, Florida (Reuters) -Donald Trump’s lawyers told a U.S. judge on Thursday that he believes he cannot get a fair trial this year on charges of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, while he campaigns to try to recapture the presidency.

That came in a legal filing ahead of a Friday court hearing where U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon plans to consider arguments on when to start the trial, one of four criminal prosecutions facing the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

“As the leading candidate in the 2024 election, President Trump strongly asserts that a fair trial cannot be conducted this year in a manner consistent with the Constitution,” the filing asserts on its first page. On its seventh page, Trump’s lawyers go on to suggest an Aug. 12, 2024, start to the trial.

A Trump attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy.

U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is bringing the case, asked for a July 8 start to the trial.

Cannon previously pushed back several pre-trial deadlines, but said she would wait until Friday to consider moving the scheduled May 20 trial.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 federal counts accusing him of retaining sensitive national security documents at his Florida resort after leaving office in 2021 and obstructing U.S. government efforts to retrieve them.

Trump is charged alongside his personal aide Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, a property manager at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Trump has repeatedly sought to delay all four of the criminal cases against him, which he has claimed are part of a politically motivated effort to damage his campaign.

Trump is due to face trial in state court in New York beginning on March 25 on charges that he falsified records to pay hush money to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election. The timing of the other three cases remains uncertain and it is unclear whether any will go to trial before the November election.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)