CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Trump’s federal election subversion trial to begin one day before Super Tuesday primary

Aug 28, 2023, 9:56 AM | Updated: Oct 17, 2023, 9:22 am

Former President Donald Trump, left, and Special Counsel Jack Smith.
(Credit: Getty Images)...

Former President Donald Trump, left, and Special Counsel Jack Smith. (Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) — The federal criminal trial of Donald Trump on charges he sought to subvert the result of the 2020 presidential election will begin March 4, 2024, the day before the Super Tuesday primary, a federal judge ruled Monday.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan made the ruling after a contentious hearing Monday in Washington, DC.

Special counsel Jack Smith had proposed a January 2024 start date and Trump sought to begin the trial two years later, in April 2026.

Smith’s team told Chutkan in a filing earlier this month that the trial should begin on January 2, 2024. They said their presentation of evidence in the trial would take “no longer than four to six weeks,” meaning that Trump may need to spend his weekdays in court before a jury in the crucial first two months of a presidential election year, as primary voting begins for Republicans.

Attorneys for the former president forcefully pushed back shortly thereafter, urging the judge to reject Smith’s proposal and saying the prosecutor sought an unusually “rapid” trial schedule.

“The government’s objective is clear: to deny President Trump and his counsel a fair ability to prepare for trial,” they wrote in their filing.

Among other things, Trump’s team argued that Smith’s proposed timeline for the trial would conflict with the other criminal and civil cases in which the former president is a defendant, including the classified documents case brought by Smith, the hush money case in New York and the Georgia election subversion case.

In the Georgia case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week suggested an October 23, 2023, trial date, something Trump’s team also said they oppose.

Smith said in a filing to Chutkan last week that Trump was overplaying concerns about scheduling conflicts among his various criminal cases. His office offered to start jury selection a little later in December to accommodate for a hearing scheduling in the classified documents case in Florida.

Smith’s team also said Trump’s attorneys exaggerated when they wrote in their filing that the millions of pages of the discovery materials prosecutors gave to the defense warranted the protracted trial schedule.

They said much of the materials came from “entities associated with the defendant,” and argued that the “exceptionally organized, clear, and user-friendly fashion” in which they presented the discovery made it appear more voluminous than it really was.

Trump faces four counts in the case, including conspiring to defraud the United States and to obstruct an official proceeding – the latter a charge that has already successfully been brought against rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The former president pleaded not guilty earlier this month.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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Trump’s federal election subversion trial to begin one day before Super Tuesday primary