Judge sets March 4 date for historic Trump trial

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

WASHINGTON: A federal judge on Monday set a date of March 4, 2024, for Donald Trump´s election subversion conspiracy trial -- placing one of the biggest criminal cases in American history at peak election season.

The date is the day before “Super Tuesday,” when more than a dozen states vote in the Republican primary contest to pick the party´s candidate for the 2024 election -- with Trump the firm favourite to secure the nomination.

Special counsel Jack Smith had asked for the trial of the 45th US president to begin on January 2, while Trump´s attorneys countered with a proposed date of April 2026 -- 17 months after the election.

“Setting a trial date does not depend on the defendant´s professional obligations so Trump will have to make a date work,” US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said after admonishing the defense that a two-year delay was too long.

The decision could have a pivotal impact on Trump´s hopes of recapturing the White House. He took to his social network, Truth Social, to demand that the case be dismissed, calling Smith “deranged” and accusing President Joe Biden of sowing “division, anger, and hatred.”

“It will only get worse because these deranged lunatics know no bounds. Someday, however, Sanity will again prevail,” he posted as Chutkan began hearing arguments at a federal courthouse in Washington.

Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges in an early August court appearance and was not required to attend Monday´s procedural hearing. The 77-year-old has been slapped with four criminal indictments this year -- twice by Smith and once each by state prosecutors in New York and Georgia.

But the case before Chutkan may pose the greatest legal peril to Trump -- particularly if it ends up being the first of what is shaping up to be a busy legal calendar for the former president.