In March 2024, during the peak of the election campaign, Trump is facing his first criminal charges. The criminal trial of former US President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 elections is scheduled for March 4, 2024. This ruling was made by the federal judge presiding over the case in Washington on Monday, posing a challenge to the former president who sought to delay the trial for years to come.
According to the Associated Press, the timeline set by US Magistrate Judge Tanya Chutkan means that Trump’s first trial to defend himself against the prosecutors and Special Counsel Jack Smith will be for the case of election interference. This trial will take place at the height of the 2024 Republican primary election season.
Chutkan stated, “The events leading to this case occurred at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Suggesting that this case be tried after five years poses a real risk that witnesses may not be available or their memories may fade. My primary concern here, as in any case, is the interest of justice, and I have balanced the defendant’s right to adequate preparation.”
She added that Trump had pleaded not guilty earlier this month to the charges brought against him in a local federal court in Washington. These charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, and engaging in a conspiracy against rights.
The former president had previously requested that the trial be held in April 2026, citing the “average time” of 29.2 months it took to convict defendants in cases involving conspiracy to obstruct official proceedings.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that prosecutors countered that the use of average time was misleading as it included the time it takes for jury selection, the trial, the verdict, and several months of deliberations, rather than just the pre-trial process duration.
The judge has set the trial date for March 4, 2024 – responding to the government’s request for a trial date in January 2024. She clarified that she agreed that the statistics provided by Trump’s legal team were “misleading.” She noted that one of the mentioned cases is currently being overseen by her and has been delayed due to the coronavirus.
CNN added that this date means that Trump will be in federal court in Washington starting the day before Super Tuesday of the Republican primary elections. Chutkan affirmed that Trump, like any other criminal defendant, will have to accept the trial date regardless of his schedule.
During the hearing, Chutkan said that instead of making her decision, she would look into the volume of materials discovered by the prosecutors to the defense, and when it would be appropriate for Trump’s lawyers to review 12 million pages of evidence.
She also pointed out that the speedy trial law, which requires criminal cases to be brought to court within 70 days of being charged, is not only there to protect Trump, but also serves the public interest in ensuring timely justice.
Chutkan stated that she considered that the government had made a significant effort to produce the discovery in an organized and searchable manner, which would expedite the review process and did not require two years, as claimed by Trump’s legal team.
Prosecutors used Lauro’s previous public statements to argue that Trump’s legal team had already reviewed the material before. “When Mr. Lauro appeared on multiple news programs and podcasts after the indictment, he described a number of defenses he intended to raise.”