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Trump on trial: Deadlines and decisions

A summary of cases the former president faces outside New York

Former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Criminal Court, May 30 Associated Press/Photo by Justin Lane/Pool Photo

Trump on trial: Deadlines and decisions

After a jury in New York City found former President Donald Trump guilty of 34 felony counts last week in his New York criminal business fraud trial, he said he was waiting on the court of public opinion to rule.

“The real verdict will be November 5th by the people,” he said. Meanwhile, as he awaits sentencing, cases in three other jurisdictions are moving slowly or have stalled, suggesting verdicts will come after Election Day.

Here’s a look at where those cases stand.

The documents case: No deadline in sight

Trump faces 40 felony counts in federal court in South Florida for allegedly retaining classified documents that belonged to the National Archives. In August 2022, the FBI raided the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate, walking away with boxes full of what they later claimed was potentially classified information. The charges range from willful retention of national defense information to conspiracy to obstruct justice—a set of offenses that could result in decades behind bars. The most lenient of his charges carries a maximum penalty of five years. The eight most punitive charges each have maximum sentences of 20 years.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Key questions in the case are whether Trump declassified the documents before bringing them to his estate, whether he knew they were classified at the time of their retention, and whether he intended to withhold them at all.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon originally set a trial date of May 20 but then indefinitely postponed it due to prolonged pretrial proceedings, much of them related to handling classified information in court. Cannon was appointed to the bench by Trump and confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Southern District of Florida in November 2020.

Special counsel Jack Smith, the investigator at the head of the prosecution’s case, criticized Cannon’s decision.

“Each time the court sets a new deadline in this case and attempts to keep it moving towards trial, the defendants reflexively ask for adjournment,” Smith wrote.

The 2020 election case: At the Supreme Court

In addition to spearheading the prosecution in the classified documents case, Smith has filed four felony charges against Trump in federal court in Washington, D.C., related to the former president’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the U.S. Capitol riot.

Trump is charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and a conspiracy against the constitutional rights of voters. Together, the four counts could add up to 35 years behind bars.

The case centers on what role, if any, Trump played in causing the riot. It also raises a constitutional question of what protections presidents have from prosecution for actions they take while in office. Trump’s attorneys argued before the Supreme Court that absolute immunity applies to his official acts as president. Smith blasted that claim.

“Recognition of [Trump’s] immunity claim would prevent Congress from applying the criminal laws equally to all persons—including the president,” Smith wrote in a court filing.

The Supreme Court’s decision, expected this summer, will have wide-reaching implications for the role of president and the separation of powers. It could lead to the case being dropped or to it moving on to trial.

The Georgia election case: postponed at the appellate level

In Georgia, Trump faces 10 state felony counts in a racketeering case that accuses him of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election by pressuring officials to throw out the election results. Four of Trump’s 18 co-defendants have pleaded guilty. The former president faces charges ranging from impersonating a public officer to intent to defraud. Trump maintains his innocence and is arguing for immunity as in his federal election case.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis originally charged Trump with 13 counts, but Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee tossed out several of them for being too vague, saying they “contain essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission. They do not give the defendants enough information to prepare their defense intelligently.”

The case has also come under scrutiny for the personal conduct of Willis, who hired a former love interest to join her on the prosecution, paying his firm more than $700,000. Trump co-defendant Michael Roman moved to have Willis removed from the case. McAfee agreed to let her stay on the case but ordered her former love interest to step aside from the prosecution. Trump and his codefendants appealed and were granted review by the Georgia Court of Appeals. A filing on Wednesday from the appeals court has paused proceedings until the matter is resolved.

“The proceedings below in the Superior Court of Fulton County are hereby stayed pending the outcome of the appeals,” the filing read.

Now that the case against Trump is set to take a significant detour at the appellate level, its progress is expected to remain stalled until March 2025.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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