April 20, 2024

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Former President Donald Trump was dealt a loss in federal court in Florida on Thursday by Judge Aileen Cannon, who denied his attorneys’ bid to delay pretrial motion deadlines in his government documents case.

As they have done in Trump’s other criminal trials, attorneys for the former president have sought to delay the proceedings. On Thursday, however, Cannon refused to extend the deadline to file pretrial motions and will maintain the Feb. 22 deadline.

Trump faces more than three dozen felony charges for his retention of government documents after leaving the White House in January 2021. Special Counsel Jack Smith alleges that the former president willfully retained classified documents and obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve them. The defendant has pleaded not guilty on all counts and maintains that he declassified the documents found in his possession.

Cannon, who was appointed by Trump to the federal bench in 2020, has been repeatedly rebuked by the 11th Circuit of Appeals over her rulings in the case, most notably in December 2022 when it vacated her order appointing a special master to review the classified material. The court ruled Cannon “improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction.”

In August 2022, the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, where agents found boxes of government documents Trump was supposed to turn over to the National Archives upon leaving office. The next month, Cannon blocked federal investigators from examining the material seized by the FBI. At the time, legal scholars called it “an unprecedented intervention by a federal district judge into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation” and “a genuinely unprecedented decision by a judge.”

“You have to wonder whether this judge belongs on a federal bench,” conservative attorney George Conway said at the time.

The documents case, which is scheduled to begin in May, is one of four criminal prosecutions of the former president, whom Smith is also prosecuting in federal court in Washington, D.C. over his attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election.

Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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