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Judge hears arguments for the timing of the Trump classified documents trial

Former President Donald Trump waves before boarding his personal plane at Miami International Airport on June 13, in Miami after his first court appearance in the classified documents case.
Alex Brandon
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump waves before boarding his personal plane at Miami International Airport on June 13, in Miami after his first court appearance in the classified documents case.

Updated July 18, 2023 at 4:29 PM ET

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Federal district Judge Aileen Cannon did not immediately rule on the start date for the classified documents trial for former President Donald Trump.

Attorneys for the Justice Department, Trump and Trump's aide, Walt Nauta, argued in Cannon's courtroom in Fort Pierce, Fla., during a pre-trial hearing Tuesday afternoon. The timing of the federal trial is crucial as it could coincide with the 2024 presidential election.

Trump is accused of keeping classified documents after the former president left the White House and refusing to hand them over to the U.S. government. He and his valet, Nauta, are also accused of conspiring to obstruct the FBI investigation by moving boxes to evade government scrutiny.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Only Nauta was in court Tuesday.

Prosecutors want to proceed with a speedy trial to begin Dec. 11. But Trump's lawyers are seeking a delay, arguing that waiting until after the 2024 presidential election would be better as Trump, of course, is running for the GOP presidential nomination.

Special counsel Jack Smith has previously told Judge Aileen Cannon that there is "no basis in law or fact" for indefinitely postponing the trial and urged the court to proceed with jury selection in December.

Trump's attorneys have also argued they have a voluminous stack of documents to review for the trial and are dealing with a uniquely complex legal case as they are tasked with defending the first former president to face federal charges from a government he once led.

Cannon is a Trump appointee and has previously been criticized for a lack of experience and ties to the former president.

This hearing comes the same day Trump announced on his Truth Social social media account that he's a target of the federal grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. If he is indicted in this case, he could be heading into the 2024 election facing several criminal trials.

Jaclyn Diaz reported from Washington, D.C., and Greg Allen from Fort Pierce, Fla.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
Jaclyn Diaz