The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's classified documents case swiftly rejected an effort by special counsel Jack Smith to schedule several key pretrial deadlines in the classified discovery process for December, saying she won't even consider scheduling such deadlines until a March 1, 2024, conference meeting.
Smith's office made the filing Thursday morning in an effort to expedite the process of identifying what classified evidence former President Donald Trump's team intends to use at trial in the classified documents case. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon didn't wait for Trump's legal team to file its opposition to the request before denying it.
The move could dash the prosecutors' hope of keeping the currently scheduled May 2024 trial date. Legal experts have noted how contentious and complex discovery negotiations can become in the months leading up to a trial with this volume of classified information at stake.
Earlier this month, Cannon agreed to move back some deadlines for pretrial motions in order to help the defense team deal with issues related to their ability to view the classified materials at the center of the case.
The judge has said she will make a decision on whether to move the trial date when the parties meet in March, after they have gone through litigation involving how classified discovery is handled at trial.
Cannon in October paused all deadlines involving the classified materials in question while she was considering the request to adjust the deadline dates.
Trump pleaded not guilty in June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials, after special counsel Smith said he repeatedly refused to return hundreds of documents containing classified information ranging from U.S. nuclear secrets to the nation's defense capabilities, and took steps to thwart the government's efforts to get the documents back. His longtime aide, Walt Nauta, also pleaded not guilty to related charges.
A superseding indictment subsequently charged Trump, Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, the head of maintenance at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, with two obstruction counts based on allegations that the defendants attempted to delete surveillance video footage at Mar-a-Lago in the summer of 2022.
Trump has denied all charges and denounced the probe as a political witch hunt.