Former U.S. President Donald Trump's trial in a case charging him with retaining dozens of classified documents containing sensitive national security information is set to begin on May 20 next year, a court order said Friday.

A federal judge in Florida rejected Trump's petition to delay the trial until sometime after the November 2024 presidential election, but the start date is far later than the Justice Department's request to begin proceedings in December.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon said in the order that the government's "proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial."

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to campaign volunteers at the Elks Lodge on July 18, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP/Kyodo)

Trump was indicted on 37 criminal counts last month over allegations of willfully withholding highly sensitive records at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office in January 2021 and obstructing government efforts to get them back.

Trump, who became the first former U.S. president to face federal criminal charges, has pleaded not guilty to the criminal counts. The 77-year-old has also insisted that the charges against him are politically motivated.

He remains the clear front-runner in an increasingly crowded field of Republicans vying for the party's presidential nomination in 2024.

The two-week trial is set to begin approximately two months before the Republican party will officially select its nominee, but the party's standard-bearer for the fall election may already be clear by that time, with the race for the presidency heating up.

Under the U.S. Constitution, an indictment or a potential conviction would not bar Trump from running for president in 2024 or serving in office if elected.

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