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Trump asks court to dismiss charges accusing him of mishandling classified documents

Donald Trump on Thursday requested a federal court to drop criminal charges against him which allege he unlawfully kept sensitive national security documents after his presidency ended.

Mr Trump, asserting that the legal action against him was flawed, entered a plea of not guilty, court filings show.

He faces a 40-count indictment in a federal court, charged with the illegal possession of classified documents at his Florida estate post-2021 and impeding efforts by the US government to reclaim them.

US special counsel Jack Smith’s team charged Mr Trump with storing documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, which contained sensitive details about the US nuclear programme and potential national security weaknesses.

According to the indictment, Mr Trump allegedly attempted to hide boxes of classified documents following a grand jury subpoena that ordered their return. Besides the former president, his aide Walt Nauta, and the Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira, were indicted and have moved to dismiss the charges against them, entering pleas of not guilty.

The trial is set to start in May. However, Mr Trump has requested a delay.

US district judge Aileen Cannon has arranged a hearing on 1 March on the timing of the trial, according to Reuters.

This comes days after Mr Trump, his adult sons and their chief associates in the Trump Organization’s sprawling real-estate empire were ordered to pay more than $364m after a months-long case targeting fraud in the family business.

The former president and his co-defendants defrauded banks and investors as part of a decade-long scheme to secure favourable financing terms for some of his brand-building properties, according to a lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general nearly two years ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump said that being hit with a $350m judgment was “a form of Navalny”, in reference to the jailing and apparent murder of the late Russian dissident.

The former president said that the ruling by New York judge Arthur Engoron – who he described as a “nut job” – was “a form of communism or fascism”.