Jack Smith Proposes July 8 Start Date For Donald Trump’s Classified Documents Trial

The former president's attorneys re-upped their claim that "a fair trial cannot be held until after the 2024 Presidential election is concluded.”

Special counsel Jack Smith proposed a July 8 start date for the trial into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to court filings on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is set to hold a hearing on the timing of the trial on Friday. If she agrees to Smith’s timeline, the former president would be forced to defend himself just before the Republican National Convention begins and the party officially selects its presidential nominee. The RNC will be held from July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Trump’s attorneys rejected Smith’s timeline in a filing of their own Thursday, saying the former president would not receive a fair trial while he was simultaneously campaigning for the presidency. He pushed for the trial, to be held in Florida, to begin after the 2024 presidential election, but also offered up Aug. 12 as an alternative start date.

“As the leading candidate in the 2024 election, President Trump strongly asserts that a fair trial cannot be conducted this year in a manner consistent with the Constitution, which affords President Trump a Sixth Amendment right to be present and to participate in these proceeding,” his lawyers wrote. “Consistent with the Introduction and reiterating the position that a fair trial cannot be held until after the 2024 Presidential election is concluded.”

Trump was indicted last June over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Smith’s team has accused the former president of hoarding the files at his Mar-a-Lago club and residence in Florida and resisting government efforts to see them returned.

The charges include counts of willful retention of documents, making false statements and obstruction of justice, among others. Trump has been charged with 40 counts in total. Two of his aides will also stand trial.

Smith’s team this week rebuffed Trump’s claims that he had been unfairly targeted, saying there has “never been a case in American history in which a former official has engaged in conduct remotely similar to Trump’s.”

But the former president has regularly lambasted the indictment — and the three others now pending against him — as political witch hunts. His attorneys have pushed claims that he is protected from prosecution, leaning on unprecedentedly broad interpretations of presidential immunity.

The U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear arguments on some of those immunity claims in relation to the federal charges he faces related to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Oral arguments are set for April 22.

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