Judge Sets March 4 For Start Of Donald Trump’s Trial In Election Conspiracy Case

A federal judge set March 4 for the start of former President Donald Trump’s trial on charges related to his efforts to retain power in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

The date is one day before Super Tuesday, a key moment in next year’s presidential election, meaning that Trump may be in the courthouse when he otherwise would be on the campaign trail.

After Judge Tanya Chutkan announced the date at a Monday hearing, Trump’s lead attorney, John Lauro, told her that they would not be able to give Trump “adequate representation” given the time frame and that it was “inconsistent with the right to due process.”

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Chutkan, though, concluded that Trump has represented by “zealous, experienced attorneys” and that prosecutors had gone further than they would in other case to provide access to discovery materials. She also noted that the former president has been aware of the grand jury investigation since September of last year. She repeatedly said that Trump will get “no more of less deference than any other defendant.”

Chutkan also said that she checked with the judge presiding over Trump’s trial on New York state charges, set to start on March 25, for any conflicts. That raises the prospect that that case, over hush money payments Trump allegedly made to Stormy Daniels, will be moved.

Prosecutors proposed January 2 for the start of the election conspiracy trial, while Trump’s legal team asked that it be put off until April, 2026, almost three years from now.

Trump pled not guilty to four conspiracy charges related to efforts to reverse the results of the election.

Smith’s team had argued that the speedier timeline “would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes.”

But Trump’s team cited the more than 12.8 million records that they needed to sift through, as well as the complexity of the case and their planned motions, including one for selective prosecution on the theory that it was brought by Joe Biden against his likely election opponent.

At the Monday hearing, Lauro angrily argued that the prosecutors’ proposed time frame would deprive Trump of a fair trial. He at times interrupted the judge as she tried to speak, leading her to tell him to cool it a bit. “Let’s take the temperature down a moment,” she told him.

Lauro said that the trial date was a “question of whether one man, one United States citizen gets a fair trial or not.” He argued that Trump could not on the schedule, suggesting that only their proposed date would suffice.

“I understand you have a sacred obligation … but let’s not overlook the fact that Mr. Trump has considerable resources that every criminal defendant does not,” Chutkan said. She noted that the vast majority of materials in discovery were duplicative, and Molly Gaston, attorney for the Justice Department, said that just 58,000 pages were at the heart of their case, including grand jury witness interview transcripts and exhibits.

Chutkan had previously indicated that Trump’s campaign schedule would not impact how she handled the case. When it came to the trial schedule, she said on Monday, she compared the situation to that of a professional athlete. She said that it would be “inappropriate” to set a date to accommodate that person’s playing schedule.

Trump earlier on Monday referred to President Joe Biden and federal prosecutors as ‘fascist thugs,” despite the judge’s warnings about inflammatory rhetoric.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, a key hearing is being held over state charges brought against Trump and 18 other defendants. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is requesting that his be moved to federal court, something that may give him a more favorable jury pool. That could have a big impact on the venue for the other defendants in the case.

Trump’s arraignment in the Georgia case was set for Sept. 6, along with other defendants.

At the hearing, Chutkan also said that Lauro must inform the court if he planned to poll prospective D.C. jurors as part of a motion to change the venue for the trial. That is out of concern that the jury pool would be tainted.

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