WASHINGTON — The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s election interference case in federal court is expected Monday to set a trial date that could have a crucial impact on the 2024 race for the White House.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan will hear arguments from Trump’s lawyers and federal prosecutors on whether the historic trial should begin before or after next year’s presidential election.
Special counsel Jack Smith has proposed that the trial start in January, with jury selection beginning in December, while Trump’s team says the trial should be pushed back until April 2026.
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Trump on four charges this month: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction; and conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted. Trump, during his arraignment hearing in early August, pleaded not guilty.
In their request for a January trial, federal prosecutors said that start date “would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial — an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes.”
Attorneys for Trump, in their proposal for commencing the trial in April 2026, cited the large amount of discovery in the case as well as Trump’s ongoing legal issues in other jurisdictions.
Trump faces three other criminal cases: state prosecutions in New York and Georgia, and a federal prosecution in Florida in connection with his handling of classified documents. The New York trial is scheduled to start in March, and the trial if Florida is set for May. The judge in the Georgia case, in whichTrump was arrested, booked and released Thursday, has yet to schedule trial proceedings.
Trump is not required to attend Monday’s 10 a.m. hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, which overlooks the site of some of the most brutal violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Chutkan, who has already received death threats in connection with the case, previously warned Trump against intimidating witnesses. “Mr. Trump, like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech,” she said. “But that right is not absolute.”