Judge Aileen Cannon has delivered a victory to former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case, overseeing his trial in the Department of Justice’s investigation into whether he mishandled classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. Federal prosecutors accused Trump of removing the documents from the White House when he left office in January 2021, and the former president has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information. Trump maintains his innocence, accusing prosecutors of targeting him for political purposes.
The trial is set to begin on May 20, 2024. Trump’s legal team and prosecutors have quarrelled over the case discovery, with defence attorneys arguing that the trial should be delayed due to issues with accessing classified documents ahead of the trial. Special Counsel Jack Smith, leading the DOJ’s case, argued that some of the documents should be kept in a secure facility in Washington, D.C., rather than Florida, due to their sensitive nature. However, Cannon ruled that the documents should be stored in a facility in South Florida.
This decision means Trump and his team will not have to travel from Florida to Washington, D.C., to view the documents as they prepare for trial. The Office of the Special Counsel has been responsible for making and carrying out arrangements to deposit such discovery to defense counsel in this District, in consultation with the Litigation Security Group for security purposes.
Cannon, who was appointed to her position by Trump, faced criticism for her decision, with some legal analysts calling for her removal on the case, pointing to decisions they view as too favourable to the former president.