A federal judge in Washington, D.C. will on Monday determine when former President Donald Trump is scheduled to face trial in the 2020 election-related case presented by special counsel, Jack Smith. This decision will establish the framework for potentially the initial trial among the four pending criminal cases involving the former president.
Among the four criminal cases that former President Donald Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is presently confronting, the one filed in Washington, D.C. by Special Counsel Jack Smith stands out. This case encompasses the broadest examination of Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat against Democrat Joe Biden.
Before the hearing, both prosecutors and Trump’s legal representatives have suggested trial dates that span both sides of the 2024 election, emphasizing the differing perspectives on the pace of the pretrial proceedings.
In court documents, Smith’s legal team encouraged District Judge Tanya Chutkan to initiate the trial in Jan. 2, 2024, some 11 months before Election Day, and predicted it would take four to six weeks. This proposal comes merely five months after Trump’s indictment on four federal charges related to an alleged plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and maintain his position of power. Notably, this suggestion comes almost three years after the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team has formally requested that Judge Chutkan postpone the trial until April 2026.
“The public interest lies in justice and fair trial, not a rush to judgment,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in their motion.
Trump’s lawyers have raised concerns about the extensive evidence provided by the government, which comprises 11.5 million pages. They contend that sorting through this voluminous amount of material will be time-consuming. To put it into perspective, they’ve likened the stack of pages, if physically arranged, to towering over the Washington Monument, and the amount of content to reading the works of Leo Tolstoy ‘War and Peace’ “78 times a day, every day, from now until jury selection.”
“To put 11.5 million pages in some perspective, we began downloading the government’s initial production on August 13, 2023. Two days later, it was still downloading,” they wrote.
Prosecutors from U.S. Special Counsel Smith’s office say such comparisons are “neither helpful nor insightful.”
They assert that a significant portion of the evidence consists of records accessible to Trump, including his own tweets, campaign statements, and publicly available information, such as the records released by the Democratically-led U.S. House select committee that conducted an inquiry into the January 6 Capitol attack.
This marks the second occasion when Trump’s legal team and the special counsel’s office have come before Judge Chutkan. In a previous hearing this month, she issued a protective order that restricted the utilization and release of “sensitive” discovery materials. This order also placed more constrained limitations on the public disclosure of information compared to what the prosecutors had initially requested.
Furthermore, she mentioned that Trump retains a First Amendment entitlement to free speech; nonetheless, she acknowledged the non-absolute nature of this right. She clarified that as a defendant, the former president is obliged to adhere to the terms of his release, which encompass prohibitions against witness intimidation.
Addressing John Lauro, Trump’s chief attorney in the case, Judge Chutkan conveyed that any potentially problematic social media content from his client would likely expedite the trial timetable to safeguard the integrity of the jury pool.
Trump on Thursday, made an appearance at a Georgia jail to confront state criminal allegations of attempting to overturn his loss there. However, it is anticipated that he won’t be present for Monday’s hearing.
In the past, Trump has criticized U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, alleging bias against him without providing evidence. He has characterized all four criminal cases as politically motivated endeavors aimed at preventing his reentry into a position of authority.
Federal judges possess significant authority to establish trial and hearing timetables for cases under their jurisdiction. The judge’s cautionary remark emerged at a time when Trump was casting doubt on the case and Judge Chutkan herself, labeling her on social media as “highly partisan” and accusing her of being “very biased and unfair.”
A significant logistical hurdle confronting Trump and his legal representatives involves coordinating court appearances for the four forthcoming criminal trials while he simultaneously campaigns for a comeback to the presidency.
In Georgia, where Trump is confronting racketeering and other state charges linked to his purported attempts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, District Attorney Fani Willis has formally requested a court date of March 4, 2024.
In the previous week, a judge agreed to establish an October 23 trial date for Trump’s co-defendant, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who had requested a swift trial. While the trial dates for the remaining defendants are yet to be determined, Sidney Powell, an attorney who advised Trump and propagated baseless fraud claims following the election, has also expressed the desire for a speedy trial.
Trump is already scheduled for trial in New York on March 25, 2024, facing distinct state charges of concealing a payment to a porn star. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has previously indicated a willingness to collaborate with other authorities to manage scheduling conflicts.
Additionally, Trump’s trial is slated for May 20, 2024, in Florida on federal charges brought by Smith, alleging his unlawful retention of classified documents post his White House tenure and an attempt to obstruct justice.
He has entered a not guilty plea in cases related to New York, Florida, and Washington. He is soon to be arraigned in Georgia, where a not guilty plea is also anticipated.