Judge Aileen Cannon, the federal judge overseeing the secret documents case against former President Donald Trump, confirmed on Friday, July 21, that the trial will begin on May 20, 2024. The announcement comes after Trump’s attorneys requested that the be delayed until after the 2024 presidential election, arguing that the former president could not properly run an election campaign while also defending himself against charges brought against him by a government led by his primary opposition.
Prosecutors had initially hoped that the trial would begin in December, though Judge Cannon criticized the proposal for being “inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial.” The judge effectively admitted that prosecutors were treating the former president differently – something the Trump camp is already describing as further evidence that the case brought against him is politically motivated.
In a motion, Cannon said that the court had rejected Trump’s request to withhold setting a schedule, adding that the court “does not see sufficient basis on the record to postpone entry of a scheduling order.”
“Nevertheless, the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial,” Cannon continued.
“While the government has taken steps to organize and filter the extensive discovery, no one disagrees that Defendants need adequate time to review and evaluate it on their own accord,” the motion also reads.
While Trump attorneys had hoped that the court would recognize the dramatic impact a trial of this nature could have on the nation’s next presidential election and delay it indefinitely, a statement issued on Friday described the announcement as a “major setback” for the case.
A Donald Trump spokesperson also accused the Department of Justice of engaging in a “crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process.”
“The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax. Crooked Joe Biden is losing and attempting to use his weaponized DOJ against his top political rival–a disgraceful and un-American abuse of power. Crooked Joe will fail and President Trump will win back the White House for the American people,” a statement from Team Trump reads.
While Trump’s polling numbers have been hurt by the criminal charges filed against him so far, the impact of a high-profile trial of this nature – one that will dominate the headlines – will be decided by how the trial pans out. If the case against the former president crumbles, it could serve to help the Trump campaign and hurt the Biden camp. Similarly, a successful trial that sees the former president sentenced to prison time could either severely hurt the Trump campaign, or play into the former president’s suggestion that the charges were politically motivated all along.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.