A federal judge in Washington on Monday said former President Donald Trump’s lawyers will not get as much time as they have requested to prepare for a criminal trial charging him with illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Trump will have to juggle his legal defence with his efforts to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
His lawyers had requested a trial date of April 2026, well past the November 2024 presidential election, saying they needed time to work through the government’s evidence. But Chutkan said she would not delay the trial that long. “Mr. Trump will have to make the trial date work, regardless of his schedule,” she said.
Chutkan is expected to set a trial date for the case, one of four criminal prosecutions the former president faces. Special Counsel Jack Smith has proposed starting the trial on Jan. 2, 2024, 11 months before Election Day.
Trump did not attend Monday’s hearing. Trump has portrayed all four criminal prosecutions as politically motivated attempts to stop him from returning to power. He has pleaded not guilty in three of those cases, and is due in a Georgia court on Sept. 6 to enter a plea in the fourth case, according to a court filing issued on Monday.
Trump has previously lashed out at Chutkan, saying, without evidence, that she is biased against him.
Trump’s attorneys say they need time to sort through the government’s evidence. “This man’s liberty and life is at stake and he deserves an adequate representation,” attorney John Lauro said. “We cannot do this in the time frame the government has outlined,” he added.
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Prosecutors say much of the evidence consists of public materials, such as Trump’s statements and congressional records. They said on Monday that they have handed over most of the evidence in the case, which totals about 12.8 million pages.
Chutkan said Trump’s legal team should have already gotten a good start. “Mr. Trump’s counsel has known this was coming for some time,” she said.
The four upcoming criminal trials pose major logistical challenges for Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House.
In Georgia, where Trump faces racketeering and other state charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat, District Attorney Fani Willis has asked the court to set a March 4, 2024 date.
One of his 18 co-defendants in that case, his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is pressing to move his trial to federal court, where he might face a more sympathetic jury.
Trump is already set to be on trial in New York on March 25, 2024, on separate state charges of concealing a hush money payment to a porn star. Trump is also due to go to trial in Florida on May 20, 2024 on federal charges also brought by Smith alleging he illegally retained classified records after leaving the White House and tried to obstruct justice.
Monday will mark the second time that Trump’s lawyers will appear before Chutkan to discuss pre-trial logistics. At the last hearing, Chutkan warned that Trump should stop posting inflammatory statements online about witnesses or others involved in the case.