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Trump Wins Calendar Victory in Classified Documents Case

Donald Trump beat the clock with one Biden/Garland prosecution.

Donald Trump will not have to stand trial on federal charges over classified documents before the November elections. United States District Judge Aileen Cannon issued an order Tuesday afternoon, May 7, resetting the court calendar in the case. Cannon, a Trump appointee, had initially set trial commencement for May 20. The judge wrote that she would not set a new trial date until significant pretrial matters are decided, likely in late July. The ruling effectively pushes whatever new trial date is issued past Election Day, November 5.

Sentence First, Verdict Afterward

The ruling is a massive defeat for the Department of Justice’s case against Donald Trump in advance of the presidential election. Would-be Trump-slayer Jack Smith – specially selected for that very purpose – petitioned Cannon in February for a trial date of July 8. Smith’s proposal did not set forth a briefing schedule for all the many pretrial arguments, rulings, and requirements. Instead, he started with the July trial date and suggested the court work backward from there.

Judge Cannon’s ruling starts with what comes next; the pretrial business. She wrote:

“The Court also determines that finalization of a trial date at this juncture – before resolution of the myriad and interconnected pretrial and CIPA [Classified Information Procedures Act] issues remaining and forthcoming – would be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pretrial motions before the Court, critical CIPA issues, and additional pretrial and trial preparations necessary to present this case to a jury.”

The DOJ seemed particularly interested in fast-tracking the criminal charges against Trump. The former president argues the extraordinary charges are designed to hobble his chances of returning to the White House. Prosecutors recently admitted to Cannon, Trump, and other defendants that they didn’t preserve the evidence boxes in the manner they represented to the court. They have mixed up some of the papers instead of maintaining the contents of boxes in the order in which they were seized in the raid on Mar-a-Lago. How to treat that issue is one of many Cannon will have to decide in the coming months.

Ethical Lapses In “Getting” Trump

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan launched an investigation of Special Prosecutor Smith on May 6. He gave the DOJ a May 20 deadline to schedule a briefing and deliver documents regarding the ethical improprieties revealed in this case. Mr. Trump’s counsel sent a letter to senior DOJ chiefs claiming prosecutors engaged in a “pattern of inaccurate claims regarding the status and substance of discovery” and that “it is now clear that even the most fundamental premise of the criminal justice process does not apply in this case.”

New banner Legal Affairs with ScottLast month, Donald Trump posted a screed to social media about Jack Smith, calling him “deranged” and the classified documents case a “FAKE Documents Hoax case in Florida.”

With this case being pushed past Election Day, should the former president win another term, he will almost certainly direct the Department of Justice to drop the matter entirely. He could also choose to issue himself a pardon. Other cases against Trump are also racing against the clock. The election interference case – also led by Jack Smith – is on hold until the Supreme Court makes its ruling on presidential immunity. The Georgia case against Trump now seems likely to miss its proposed trial start date due to hearings over Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ affair with her lead prosecutor. As of now, the ongoing NYC-based prosecution of Trump for an alleged “hush money” payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels is the only case that seems likely to be decided before November.

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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