US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon set the start of the jury trial of the former president — the first ever to face criminal charges — for May 20, 2024.
Prosecutors had asked for the trial to begin in December of this year, while Trump’s defense attorneys had requested it be held after the November 2024 election.
Cannon said she chose a May start date to give both sides time to process more than 1.1 million pages of discovery evidence and confront the challenge of handling the classified documents at the heart of the case.
“No one disagrees that Defendants need adequate time to review and evaluate it on their own accord,” said Cannon, a Trump appointee who was randomly assigned to the high-stakes legal battle.
The trial will be held at a federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, a city about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Miami in a part of Florida handily won by Trump in the 2016 and 2020 presidential contests.
The 77-year-old Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and the trial will begin near the end of the primary campaign to select the party’s candidate.
The Republican National Convention, where the nominee will be selected, is to take place July 15-18 in Milwaukee but most of the major primary contests will have already taken place by May 20.
A Trump spokesperson welcomed the judge’s decision not to start the trial in December, calling it a “setback to the (Justice Department’s) crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process.
The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax,” the spokesperson said.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said the judge, in choosing a May start date, appeared to be trying to “split the difference” between the requests of the prosecutors and the defense attorneys.
Trump may still seek to push back the start even further, Tobias said, since he has a “penchant for delaying virtually every legal proceeding in which he has been involved over decades.”
“He sees delay as his ‘friend,’” Tobias said.