Donald Trump will be prosecuted in the middle of the primary campaign in May 2024

A federal judge on Friday set for May next year Donald Trump’s landmark trial over his handling of state secrets as the 2024 presidential campaign heats up.

Judge Eileen Cannon said the first trial targeting a former US president who is also a new candidate for the White House will begin on May 20, 2024 in federal court in Fort Pierce, about 210 kilometers north of Miami, Florida (southeast).

Thus it is intended to give time to the parties to examine the file of about 1.1 million pages, not to mention the challenge posed in regard to scrutiny of these documents for some highly confidential documents.

“No one can dispute that the defendant will need substantial time to review and evaluate the case,” the judge, appointed by President Trump, wrote in his ruling.

Prosecutors had called for the trial to begin in December, while defense lawyers argued for a trial after the November 2024 presidential election.

However, Carl Tobias, a lawyer for the University of Richmond, underlined that “it is not certain that the trial date can stay”, predicting a lengthy exchange of procedures before the opening of the trial.

But if it takes place in May 2024 as planned, it would be held in the middle of the Republican primary campaign to nominate the candidate who will take on Democrat Joe Biden in November 2024, and for whom Donald Trump, 77, is the overwhelming favorite according to polls.

The Republican convention, which will nominate the winner of the primaries, is scheduled for mid-July in Milwaukee (Wisconsin, north), but most primaries will have taken place before May 20.

The trial will not prevent the billionaire from campaigning, but it is customary for an accused to be physically present at the hearing. And the trial is expected to last for weeks, if not months.

– 37 charges –

An undated photo provided by a federal court in Florida shows boxes of documents related to Donald Trump’s presidency stored in a toilet at his luxury Mar-a-Lago club (US Department of Justice/AFP – Handout)

In mid-June charged with 37 counts including “unlawful withholding of national security information”, “obstruction of justice” and “perjury”, Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in federal court in Miami.

The former Republican president speaks of “harassment” and assures that he has the right to keep the documents.

He is accused of endangering the security of the United States by keeping classified documents, including military plans or nuclear weapons information, in the bathroom or storage room of his luxury residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, instead of turning them over to the National Archives after he leaves the White House in January 2021.

However, the law obliges any US President to send all his e-mails, letters and other working documents to the National Archives. Another law on espionage prohibits the keeping of state secrets in unauthorized and unsecured places.

The case caused the Federal Police (FBI) to launch a spectacular manhunt of his Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022.

According to the indictment, before being moved to the “storeroom” accessed from the swimming pool, the boxes were placed here and there, particularly on the stage of the “ballroom”, in a bedroom or office, where some documents marked with the mention of “Secret Defense” were seen scattered on the floor.

Walt Nauta, a former personal assistant to Donald Trump, who has been charged with complicity in the affair and pleaded not guilty, will be tried along with his former boss.

Since leaving the White House, Donald Trump has faced a number of legal controversies that could overshadow the course of the presidential election.

He has been personally targeted in a federal investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in Washington and could be charged with “conspiracy” against the state, among other things.

He is accused in the Stormy Daniels case of paying the porn actress to cover up an alleged relationship in 2016. He also received a civil penalty for sexual assault.

And a Georgia prosecutor has until September to announce the outcome of his investigation into whether he tried to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.

In spite of everything, the former president, who has already been acquitted twice during the impeachment proceedings when he was in the White House, vows that he will not give up.

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