Donald Trump’s documents trial indefinitely postponed


Donald Trump’s classified documents trial has been delayed indefinitely, a judge ruled on Tuesday, making it unlikely the former president will be tried before the 2024 election.

In a win for the former US president, district judge Aileen Cannon axed the May 20 start date without scheduling a new timeline.

Mr Trump had been due to go to trial in less than two weeks for the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, but the prosecution and defence had both acknowledged that date would need to be delayed.

Mr Trump is currently in court in New York for his hush money case, in which he is accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Ms Cannon, a Trump-appointed judge, said to finalise the date before resolving a “myriad” of pre-trial issues would be “imprudent and inconsistent with the court’s duty”.

She scheduled pre-trial hearings to run through July 22.

Mr Trump’s legal team won a second coup on Wednesday when a Georgia court agreed to hear their appeal of the judge’s decision not to disqualify district attorney Fani Willis from the 2020 election subversion case.

The Georgia Court of Appeals said it would consider the challenge to Judge Scott McAffee’s ruling brought by Mr Trump and other defendants.

Steve Sadow, Mr Trump’s lawyer, said his client “looks forward to presenting interlocutory arguments to the Georgia Court of Appeals as to why the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unjustified, unwarranted political persecution”.

Mr McAfee ruled in March 2024 that Ms Willis could remain on the case if prosecutor Nathan Wade – with whom she had previously had a relationship – stepped down.

The judge ruled there was not enough evidence to prove Ms Willis financially benefited from the romance.

The postponement means Mr Trump is unlikely to face any of his further three criminal trials before voters go to the polls in November.

Trump walks to speak to the press at the end of the day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs
Mr Trump appeared on Tuesday at the trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs - Win McNamee/AFP via Getty Images

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 federal counts accusing him of retaining sensitive national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office in 2021 and obstructing US government efforts to retrieve them.

Ms Cannon is yet to rule on several legal issues crucial to the documents case and has signalled support for Mr Trump’s defence on some matters.

The charges include violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalises the unauthorised possession of national defence information, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to investigators.

Mr Smith faces significant obstacles to getting either federal case against Mr Trump to trial before the election.

Further delay the case

In a separate case brought by Mr Smith involving Mr Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the US Supreme Court appeared poised to recognise that former presidents have at least some immunity from prosecution over official actions.

That outcome would likely further delay the case, which is being overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, as lower courts determine which allegations against him are covered by that legal shield.

Mr Trump has also been charged in state court in Georgia over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The latest delay is victory for Mr Trump, whose lawyers have worked to try and push his criminal cases back in the hope he wins the 2024 election.

In an April Reuters/Ipsos poll, nearly a quarter of Republican respondents and more than half of independents indicated they would not vote for Mr Trump if a jury convicted him of a felony.

Mr Trump has denied all the charges against him, claiming he is the victim of a political witch hunt.