Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Shifting legal deadlines put Trump on tight primary schedule



Deadlines are shifting across former President Donald Trump’s crowded legal calendar raising questions about whether pending trial dates will hold amid the upcoming Republican primary.

Trump, 77, is leading polls for the GOP nomination, but criminal and civil cases across the country pose logistical challenges with the state-by-state nomination process, which begins Jan. 15 with caucuses in Iowa.

The next day is the start of a federal civil trial in Manhattan, in which a jury will decide how much Trump will have to pay for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. Trump is appealing a jury decision in May in the case along with Carroll’s decision to proceed with a separate civil case.

The first state primary election is set to take place in New Hampshire on Jan. 23. Nevada’s GOP presidential caucuses are set for Feb. 8. South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary is Feb. 24.

Then comes the first of Trump’s two federal criminal charges. The Washington D.C. trial is set to start March 4. Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team of federal prosecutors charged Trump in Washington D.C., with four federal counts related to contesting the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction, and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted, according to the indictment. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

That trial starts the day before Super Tuesday on March 5, when 15 Republican primaries and caucuses are scheduled to take place.  

Next up is the start of Trump’s New York state criminal case on March 25. In that case, Trump pleaded not guilty in April to 34 felony counts related to charges he paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels through a lawyer before the 2016 presidential election and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president.

Then comes the scheduled start of the classified documents case in Florida on May 20. In that case, Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 felony counts that allege he kept sensitive military documents, shared them with people who didn’t have security clearance, and tried to thwart the government’s attempts to get them back.

In Florida, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon has changed multiple pre-trial deadlines, but has so far kept the trial date set for May 20. 

The documents case involves about 1.3 million pages of unclassified discovery, 60 terabytes of closed circuit television footage, and 5,500 pages of classified discovery.

“The Court cannot ignore the realities of pretrial and trial schedules in two other criminal matters,” Cannon previously noted, citing the federal case in Washington D.C., where Trump stands accused of trying to interfere with the transfer of power after the 2020 election, and the New York hush money case.

The final GOP primaries are set for June before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee from June 15 to June 18. That’s when the party formally chooses its candidate.

The kick-off date for Trump’s Georgia criminal trial is Aug. 4. In that case, Trump stands accused of trying to interfere in the state’s 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Federal prosecutors have accused Trump of trying to delay his federal criminal cases “at any cost.” Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly argued that prosecutors have proposed unrealistic timelines in the two federal cases.

Trump has said the legal challenges amount to a politically charged witch hunt designed to interfere with his bid to re-take the White House.