Trump Campaign Says New Trial Date a ‘Major Setback’ for DOJ

Trump Campaign Says New Trial Date a ‘Major Setback’ for DOJ
Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepare to speak at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. on June 13, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Samantha Flom

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign on July 21 called the new May 2024 court date for his federal criminal trial a “major setback” to Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors.

Scheduled to begin on May 20, 2024, the new trial date was set earlier that day by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon following extension requests from both Special Counsel Jack Smith and Mr. Trump’s legal team.

“Today’s order by Judge Cannon is a major setback to the DOJ’s crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process,” a Trump spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax.

“Crooked Joe Biden is losing and attempting to use his weaponized DOJ against his top political rival—a disgraceful and un-American abuse of power. Crooked Joe will fail and President Trump will win back the White House for the American people.”

Initially, the trial was set for August of this year. The special counsel, however, requested that the date be pushed back to December, while Mr. Trump sought a postponement until after the 2024 election. The final date represents a compromise between the two.
Proceeding to trial in August would deny both parties “reasonable time necessary for effective preparation,” Judge Cannon noted in the order (pdf).

Although the judge denied Mr. Trump’s request to hold off on setting a trial schedule, she found the government’s proposed timeline to be “atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial.”

Ultimately, she reasoned that a longer delay would be required to ensure adequate time for discovery review and resolve any pre-trial motions or complications due to security clearance requirements.

The two-week trial will take place in a federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida.

‘Witch Hunt’

In addition to the 37 felony counts Mr. Trump is facing over his handling of classified documents, he is also fighting 34 counts of falsification of business records in a separate case in New York.
And, according to Mr. Trump, that tally may increase again soon. Earlier this week, he revealed in a statement shared to Truth Social that he had become a target of Mr. Smith’s Jan. 6 probe. Target letters typically suggest a grand jury is finalizing an investigation and indictments are imminent.

“So now, Joe Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who I turned down for the United States Supreme Court … together with Joe Biden’s Department of Injustice, have effectively issued a third indictment and Arrest of Joe Biden’s number one political opponent, who is largely dominating him in the race for the Presidency,” the former president said.

Mr. Trump said he received the news via letter on July 16 and was given four days to report to the grand jury.

Over the years, throughout all the accusations leveled at him—of which there have been many—Mr. Trump has maintained his innocence. The Russian collusion investigation and the two impeachment trials, he said, were all politically motivated attacks designed to keep him out of power. And the latest criminal charges, he added, are no different.

“This witch hunt is all about election interference and a complete and total weaponization of law enforcement!” he said. “It is a very sad and dark period for our Nation!”

Mr. Smith has held that the prosecutors on his team adhere to “the highest ethical standards” while conducting their investigations.

Presidential Race

While the documents trial’s continuance provides Mr. Trump with more time to prepare his defense, it also means he will face a potential conviction while vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

But the good news for the candidate is that, thus far, that possibility only seems to have made him more popular with his fellow Republicans.

Since the first indictment was issued against him in New York, Mr. Trump has surged in the polls to enjoy a steady and substantial lead over the rest of the Republican primary field.

Currently, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, he is polling at around 52.5 percent. Placing at a distant second is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with 20.8 percent.

Those numbers have not changed significantly over the past few months. However, with the first Republican primary debate scheduled for Aug. 23, there may be an opportunity for other contenders to come to the forefront—if they meet the criteria.

One of the more controversial requirements the Republican National Committee has settled on is that candidates will need to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee to secure a spot on the debate stage.

In June, Mr. Trump told Reuters that he may forgo the first primary debate in Milwaukee to host an alternative event, citing his distaste for the hosting network, Fox News, and his significant lead in the polls.

“Why would I give them time to make statements? Why would I do that when I’m leading them by 50 points and 60 points?” he asked.

Zachary Steiber contributed to this report.
Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at [email protected].
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