Donald Trump has a court date. And a judge. For those who assumed that the Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon would naturally remove herself from presiding over this trial, especially after her actions earlier in the same case ended up with the 11th Circuit stepping in to reverse her every decision and scold her for breaking every judicial convention … think again. Because everything about the order she just issued indicates that Cannon intends to be in the big chair when testimony begins.
The order calls for the case to begin on Aug. 14, or “as soon thereafter as the case may be called.“ Pretrial motions are to due by July 24. The statement anticipates a two-week trial before the jury.
No one should anticipate that Trump’s trial will actually start promptly on that date. It’s common for cases before the federal court to be continued to a later date. If there is anything that Trump has proven himself to be good at when it comes to court cases, it’s delay, and Cannon has demonstrated that she is his willing partner in pumping the brakes. This is a placeholder date. The difference between Aug. 14 and when a gavel actually hits the table is likely to be measured in months.
Even though Trump’s arraignment was held at the federal courthouse in Miami, the trial is scheduled for the Alto Adams Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida. This is is the normal courthouse for the Southern District of Florida, where Cannon normally hears cases, and where she presided over the whole “special master” fiasco.
The difference between the date on the order and the date on which things might get rolling is highlighted by some of the conditions Cannon attaches to her order. For example:
Any motion for a continuance of trial shall (1) set forth in detail which factors constitute grounds for a continuance pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B), including the complexity of the case, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii), the security clearance process, and any anticipated impact of the Classified Information Procedures Act, Pub. L. 96–456, 94 Stat. 2025, 18 U.S.C. App. III §§ 1–16; and (2) indicate whether the reasons served by granting the continuance outweigh the defendant’s constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial
This paragraph anticipates that there will be a continuance because of the need to obtain security clearances for attorneys and staff, the issues caused from the numerous classified documents at the heart of the case, and the inherent “complexity of the case.”
Of the two dates, the July 24 date may be the only one that matters, because Trump’s team is likely to wait until the last possible minute of that day before handing in their paperwork, which will be a request for a continuance—one that moves the date for filing more requests for a continuance weeks into the future.
Unless something happens in that time to replace Cannon at the helm, don’t expect any of these requests to be denied.
Donald Trump is facing even more legal jeopardy and the sharks in the Republican Party seem to sense there is some blood in the water. Chris Christie has made his campaign all about going directly at Trump, and Ron DeSantis seems to be closer and closer to becoming completely isolated from the field.