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Former President Donald Trump

Photo: Eric Gay / AP

The trial against former US President Donald Trump in the secret documents affair will begin later than desired by the public prosecutor.

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon said Friday at a hearing in Fort Pierce, Florida, that the July 8 deadline proposed by the prosecution was "unrealistic."

She referred to the large number of legal questions that still need to be clarified before the trial begins.

The judge did not set a date for the start of the trial at the hearing.

Trump's lawyers are demanding that the trial should not begin before the presidential election on November 5th, in which the former president wants to challenge incumbent Joe Biden.

Alternatively, they have mentioned August 12th as a possible date for the start of the trial.

Trump is accused of taking numerous secret government files from the White House to his private estate Mar-a-Lago in Florida at the end of his term in office and hiding them there from the reach of the judiciary.

The Republican was indicted for this last June.

If convicted, he theoretically faces a long prison sentence.

Trump is known for playing for time in judicial proceedings and delaying trials through a series of motions.

For example, he went to the US Supreme Court to clarify the question of possible immunity from prosecution.

The Supreme Court approved Trump's request on Wednesday - meaning that a trial against Trump for election manipulation originally scheduled for March 4th is on hold for the time being.

Four criminal cases against Trump

Trump is charged in a total of four criminal cases.

Two cases are about his campaign against his election defeat in 2020: In addition to the federal case, there is a similar case in the southern state of Georgia.

On Friday, the responsible court again addressed the question of whether senior public prosecutor Fani Willis should be removed from the case because of an intimate relationship with a prosecutor she hired.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Scott McAfee announced that he would make a decision within two weeks.

There are still some legal questions to be clarified and some substantive decisions to be made: "So I will take the time to make sure that I examine this case comprehensively," said McAfee.

If Attorney Willis were to be removed from the case, the trial against Trump would be in jeopardy.

Willis' successor would then have to decide whether the proceedings should continue.