The Federal Judge Sets Trial Date for Trump’s Prosecution
The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election set a trial date on Monday for early March, laying out a schedule that was close to the government’s initial request of January and that rebuffed Mr. Trump’s extraordinary proposal to push off the proceeding until nearly a year and half after the 2024 election.
The decision by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, issued at a contentious hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, to start the trial on March 4 potentially brought it into conflict with two other trials that Mr. Trump is facing that month.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., has proposed taking Mr. Trump to trial on charges of tampering with the election in that state on the same day. A second trial in Manhattan, in which Mr. Trump has been accused of more than 30 felonies connected to hush-money payments to a porn actress in the run-up the 2016 election, is set to go to trial on March 25.
While Judge Chutkan noted that she had already spoken to the judge in the Manhattan case, the fact that three of the four criminal cases confronting Mr. Trump could go before separate juries in separate cities within weeks of one another reflects the extraordinary nature of the former president’s legal situation.
The Complexity of Trump’s Legal Woes
Mr. Trump has now been indicted four times in four places — Washington, New York, Atlanta and Fort Pierce, Fla. — and prosecutors from across the country have been jockeying for position.
All of them are trying to find time for their trials not only in relation to one another, but also against the backdrop of Mr. Trump’s crowded calendar as the candidate leading the field for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
Mr. Trump has made no secret in conversations with his aides that he would like to solve his uniquely complicated legal woes by winning the election.
If either of his two federal trials is delayed until after the race and Mr. Trump prevails, he could seek to pardon himself after taking office or have his attorney general dismiss the matters altogether.
In remarks from the bench, Judge Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, played down arguments made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers that they needed until April 2026 to prepare for the trial given the voluminous amount of discovery they will have to sort through.
The judge also noted that while she understood that Mr. Trump had both other trial dates scheduled next year and, at the same time, was running for the country’s highest office, she was not going to let the intersection of his legal troubles and his political campaign get in the way of setting a date.
“Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule,” Judge Chutkan said, adding that “there is a societal interest to a speedy trial.”