The Department of Justice (DOJ) has cautioned U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that former President Donald Trump is seeking to manipulate her into delaying his upcoming trials related to the handling of White House documents. Trump’s attorneys have requested a postponement of the trial in the documents case, scheduled to begin on May 20, 2024. They have also asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing Trump’s criminal case regarding the 2020 election, to halt proceedings until a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming presidential immunity, is resolved.
In a filing on Thursday, the DOJ shared Trump’s request to delay the election case with Judge Cannon, highlighting the alleged disingenuousness of Trump’s attorneys in using the election trial to delay the documents trial. Prosecutors argue that Cannon should not base her trial date on the election case, emphasizing Trump’s interest in delaying both trials at any cost.
Delaying the federal trials until after the 2024 election could potentially benefit Trump if he were to regain the presidency, as he could then attempt to have the charges against him dropped before the cases go to trial.
Judge Cannon has not yet ruled on whether to delay Trump’s trial, but she expressed her intention to do so “as soon as possible” during a recent hearing. It remains uncertain if she will agree to postpone the trial until after the 2024 election. Judge Chutkan’s ruling on Trump’s request to pause proceedings in the election case and the decision on his motion to dismiss the charges are also pending.
In the documents case, Trump faces 40 federal felony charges, including obstruction, withholding and concealing documents, and making false statements. If convicted on all charges and given the maximum sentence, he could face up to 450 years in prison and fines of up to $10 million. The DOJ brought charges against Trump following an investigation into his alleged unlawful retention of classified White House documents and obstruction of the government’s investigation.
The federal election and documents cases are two of four criminal cases against Trump, with additional cases in state courts in New York and Georgia. Judge Cannon’s previous rulings have drawn scrutiny, as she appointed a third-party special master to oversee a review of the seized documents at Mar-A-Lago, a decision criticized by legal experts. Judge Chutkan, on the other hand, has been perceived as more critical of Trump and imposed a gag order on him based on his comments against prosecutors.