Former President Donald Trump speaks to campaign volunteers at the Elks Lodge, Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Image Credit: AP

A federal judge in Florida set a May 20, 2024, trial in the classified documents case against Donald Trump, rejecting the Justice Department's bid to try the case in December as well as the former president's request for a delay until after the 2024 election.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Friday set the date following a closely watched pre-trial hearing on July 18. While prosecutors won't be able to try the case this year, Cannon's move is a setback for Trump, who had asked her to set no trial date as he navigates various trials, pending criminal probes and his campaign.

Cannon began her order by rebuffing Trump's request to delay setting a firm schedule, writing that she found it "necessary" to keep the rest of the case on track. She said that Trump's arguments in favor of delay rooted in the demands of his 2024 campaign were "unnecessary" to her decision.

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But she wrote that the government's December proposal was "atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial," given the amount of evidence and complications related to the use of classified material.

The trial in Florida is one of several legal obligations piling up on Trump's schedule going into the 2024 election cycle, including cases involving his business, allegations of defamation and hush money payments to an adult film star years ago. Trump is also the target of federal and state criminal probes related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The trial date falls after nearly all the primaries have been completed, but before an official Republican presidential nominee is named at the convention in July. If Trump won enough of those primaries, he could be the presumptive Republicans presidential nominee when his trial begins.

Special counsel Jack Smith's office and the defense teams for Trump and his co-defendant Waltine "Walt" Nauta had all agreed that Cannon's original plan to hold the trial in August was far too fast. But they sparred over what the judge should order instead.