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Donald Trump’s very complicated legal calendar is coming into view. It currently appears that his criminal trials will occur after a large portion of Republican primary voters have decided whether to make him their nominee for the third consecutive time, but before Election Day.
On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, DC, set March 4, 2024, as the start date for the first of his two federal criminal trials. Read CNN’s full coverage of two dueling hearings from Monday.
The next day, March 5, is Super Tuesday, the fulcrum of the primary calendar, when Texas, California and a dozen other states hold their primaries. It’s the largest delegate prize of the year.
Track developments in Trump’s criminal cases.
Track the key political dates and events.
The judge in that federal election interference case, Tanya Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, rejected calls by prosecutors to begin the trial in January, but angered Trump’s attorneys by selecting March.
Trump’s lawyers said that date will not give them time to prepare. There will also be a busy court schedule between now and the trial date start as the prosecution and defense offer and respond to pretrial motions, witnesses and other issues.
Chutkan said during the proceeding Monday she contacted the judge overseeing Trump’s criminal trial in New York, related to hush-money payments in 2016, which is set to begin March 25.
By claiming the earlier March date, she asserted the primacy of the federal court will likely come before the proceedings in New York. The federal judge overseeing Trump’s trial in federal court in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified documents is a Trump appointee who set those proceedings for May, after most of the GOP primaries have concluded.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has charged Trump and 18 alleged co-conspirators with trying to subvert the 2020 election in Georgia, making false statements and other charges, had earlier suggested March 4, 2024, as a potential start date. But she moved that request up drastically last week, suggesting a lightning-quick October 23, 2023, start date.
One of Trump’s alleged co-conspirators asked for a quicker, separate trial and Willis wants to try everyone at the same time.
Whether the judge accepts that request remains to be seen, but it does seem like an incredibly aggressive schedule.
On Monday, Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows testified in federal court in Georgia as part of his effort to get the case brought by Willis against him moved to federal court.
Technically not until the party’s convention. Republicans will hold theirs next July in Milwaukee.
However, the outcome is generally clear sometime in the spring of a presidential year. Trump had clinched the Republican nomination in late May 2016. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney had also amassed enough delegates by the end of May in 2012.
In 2020, Trump was essentially unopposed as the incumbent. President Joe Biden had the delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination by the beginning of June that year, similar to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Obama in 2008.
Andrew McCabe is a former FBI official and now a CNN law enforcement analyst. He told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Monday that there should be time to complete the federal election interference case before voters choose the next president.
“I think that there is a real chance now that that case could go to trial and come to conclusion before the election,” McCabe said. “However, even that trial date, as motions come up and things are won and lost and appealed and delayed, that date could slip – but we have a fair amount of time to get it in.”
Here are the known and potential Republican political contests in 2024, which I obtained from Ethan Cohen at CNN’s political unit, alongside Trump’s criminal trial dates (in bold). Cohen notes that multiple states have not yet finalized their primary or caucus dates and the ones listed in June, in particular, could move to earlier in the year. Plus, the trial for the Georgia case must still be added into the mix.
January 15 – E. Jean Carroll civil defamation trial begins; Iowa caucuses
January 23 – Possible New Hampshire primary
February 8 – Nevada caucuses
February 24 – South Carolina primary
February 27 – Possible Michigan primary
March 2 – Possible Michigan caucuses; Idaho caucuses
March 3 – DC party-run primary
March 4 – Federal trial on 2020 election criminal charges begins; North Dakota caucuses
March 5 (Super Tuesday) – Primaries in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah caucuses, primaries in Vermont, Virginia
March 12 – Primary in Georgia, Hawaii caucuses, primaries in Mississippi, Washington
March 19 – Primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio
March 23 – Primary in Louisiana
March 25 – Trump’s criminal trial in New York related to hush-money payments in 2016 begins
April 2 – Primaries in Delaware, potentially New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin
April 23 – Primary in Pennsylvania
April 30 – Primary in Connecticut
May 7 – Primary in Indiana
May 14 – Primaries in Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia
May 20 – Criminal trial in classified documents case begins
May 21 – Primaries in Kentucky, Oregon
June 4 – Primaries in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota
July 15-18 – GOP convention in Milwaukee
The four sets of criminal accusations against Trump are far from his only trials. October 2, 2023 is the scheduled trial date for the $250 million civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump, his oldest children and his companies.
And we should note here that any of these trial dates could change. Many of the primary dates may also change.
But one of the few set-in-stone dates of American life is Election Day, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November – and which in 2024, falls on November 5, 435 days from now.