Trump and Smith feud over trial date in classified documents case

Former President Donald Trump and special counsel Jack Smith sparred on Thursday over when the criminal classified documents case should take place, clashing just one day before the judge will deliberate on their proposals.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is expected to issue a scheduling update during a Friday hearing amid expectations that she will delay the currently scheduled May 20 trial start. Smith requested that the trial begin on July 8, while Trump renewed his plea that it should not begin until after the 2024 election as he seeks to keep his presidential campaign calendar clear.

From left to right: U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon and former President Donald Trump.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon and former President Donald Trump. | (AP Photos)

“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,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in a court filing, which also cited key dates in the former president’s campaign schedule.

If the judge is ultimately unwilling to delay the trial until after the election, Trump proposed an Aug. 12 start date.

Cannon, an appointee of Trump, has asked both parties to submit updated proposals in advance of the proceedings, which were due by the end of the day on Thursday.

Trump is charged with 40 counts of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House and attempting to obstruct the government’s efforts to recover those records. He has pleaded not guilty.

In November, Cannon declined Trump’s request to push back the May trial date. She announced at the time that she would convene for a scheduling conference on March 1.

Cannon is poised to confront the issue of setting a trial date while Trump handles other criminal cases, including the state-level hush money trial that is set to begin in New York on March 25, and she may consider those when determining the remaining pretrial schedule in the classified documents case.

Trump has filed a handful of motions seeking to dismiss the case, including on the grounds of presidential immunity and selective prosecution, as well as over disputes about how to manage whether his attorneys can view classified materials relevant to the case.

Proceedings in Cannon’s court are expected to stem into the afternoon amid a separate hearing in Trump’s Georgia criminal case on whether District Attorney Fani Willis should be disqualified because of her romantic relationship with her hired special prosecutor, Nathan Wade. Willis and Wade have sought to remain on the case and dismiss Trump and his co-defendants’ complaint as baseless.

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Against that backdrop, the Supreme Court on Wednesday also agreed to hear oral arguments the week of April 22 over Trump’s presidential immunity claim in Smith’s separate indictment alleging he attempted to subvert the 2020 election.

Trump’s lawyers on Thursday asked Cannon to schedule a hearing on Trump’s motions to dismiss the classified documents indictment on “presidential immunity, the Appointments Clause, and the Appropriations Clause” following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the immunity dispute, which may come down in May or June, depending on how long the justices need to form their opinion.

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