(The Center Square) – A federal judge Monday set a trial date for former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case that could pose challenges for the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the trial to begin Aug. 14, “or as soon thereafter as the case may be called.” The trial is expected to last two weeks, which could create scheduling issues for Trump as he seeks the GOP nomination for president.
If the date holds, it would partially overlap with the Iowa State Fair, which runs from Aug 10 to Aug. 20. The fair has been a traditional campaign stop for presidential candidates.
It could also complicate Trump’s ability to participate in the first Republican debate. The Republican National Committee set the first primary debate for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. Trump has yet to commit to the debate, and has previously said it doesn’t make sense for him to join the stage with candidates trailing him by a wide margin in the polls.
Trump has been leading early polls for the GOP nomination.
On Tuesday, Trump again called the federal charges election interference.
“No crime, no case,” he posted on his social media network Truth Social. “Election Interference!”
Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn’t have security clearance and tried to get around the government’s efforts to get them back. He is charged with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information along with conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal and false statements and representations.
The indictment laid out the charges against Trump and his body man Walt Nauta. Trump was charged with keeping classified documents after leaving office and later obstructing the government’s efforts to get them back. The indictment contains specific dates and times with to-the-minute details of where the documents were stored, where they were moved and who was involved.
Among the records were 197 that contained classified markings, including 98 marked “secret” and 30 marked “top secret.” The “top secret” designation means that unauthorized disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage” to national security,” according to the indictment. Trump turned those records over to the National Archives and Records Administration on Jan. 17, 2022, in response to demands from that federal agency.
On June 3, 2022, an attorney for Trump provided the FBI with 38 additional documents with classified markings. And during a raid of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8, 2022, the FBI recovered 102 additional documents with classified markings.
While the U.S. Secret Service provided security to Trump while he was at his Palm Beach property, Trump never told the agency that classified documents were stored there, according to the indictment. Mar-a-Lago played host to 150 social events – such as weddings, fundraisers and movie premieres for tens of thousands of guests from January 2021, when Trump left office, through the FBI raid Aug. 8, 2022. Mar-a-Lago had about 150 employees during that time, prosecutors said in the indictment.
Prosecutors allege the documents belong to some of the nation’s most secret agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Energy and the Department of State.
The documents contained information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of the United States and other allied nations, U.S. nuclear programs, plans for possible retaliation in case of an attack and potential U.S. vulnerabilities, according to the indictment.
Trump stored the boxes in several locations at Mar-a-Lago, his social club with 25 guest rooms in Palm Beach. The boxes that contained classified documents were stored in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room, prosecutors alleged in the indictment.
The club was not authorized to store classified documents.
Prosecutors further alleged Trump showed classified documents to people not authorized to see such records. In one case July 21, 2021, at the Bedminster Club in New Jersey, Trump allegedly showed a writer, a publisher and two staff members classified documents. During the recorded interview, Trump said the documents were “highly classified” and he could have declassified them while president, but could no longer do so after leaving office, according to the indictment. In August or September 2021, prosecutors allege Trump showed a representative of his political action committee a classified map of a country.
In April, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts in New York related to charges he paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels through a lawyer before the 2016 presidential election and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president.