World

Donald Trump to stand trial next year over bid to overturn election result

Special counsel Jack Smith had wanted the trial to begin in January (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Special counsel Jack Smith had wanted the trial to begin in January (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) Special counsel Jack Smith had wanted the trial to begin in January (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A judge has set a trial date of Monday March 4 for Donald Trump in the federal case in Washington charging the former president with trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The decision from US district judge Tanya Chutkan denied a defence request to push the trial back until April 2026, about a year and a half after the 2024 election, but also sets it later than the January date proposed by special counsel Jack Smith’s team.

Judge Chutkan made it clear to both sides at the outset of Monday’s status conference that she considered neither proposal acceptable.

“These proposals are obviously very far apart,” she said. “Neither of them is acceptable.”

Mr Trump, a Republican, was charged earlier this month in a four-count indictment with scheming to undo his loss to Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the 2020 election.

If the current date holds, it would represent a setback to Mr Trump’s efforts to push the case back until well after the 2024 presidential election, a contest in which he is the early front-runner for the Republican nomination.

The March 2024 date would also ensure a blockbuster trial in the country’s capital in the heat of the Republican presidential nominating calendar, forcing Mr Trump to juggle campaign and courtroom appearances and coming the day before Super Tuesday – a crucial voting day when more than a dozen states will hold primaries and when the largest number of delegates are up for grabs.

The federal election subversion prosecution is one of four criminal cases against Mr Trump.

Mr Smith’s team has brought a separate federal case accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his property in Palm Beach, Florida, and refusing to give them back. That case is currently set for trial next May 20.

Mr Trump also faces state cases in New York and Georgia.

Trump Indictment Capitol Riot
Trump Indictment Capitol Riot Special counsel Jack Smith had wanted the trial to begin in January (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

Manhattan prosecutors have charged him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actor who has said she had an extramarital affair with Mr Trump, while prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have charged Trump and 18 others in a racketeering conspiracy aimed at undoing that state’s 2020 election.

Mr Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, surrendered Thursday in that case, posing with a scowling face for the first mug shot in American history of a former US president.

He has claimed the investigations of him are politically motivated and are an attempt to damage his chances of winning back the White House.

In a separate case relating to the 2020 election, Mr Trump and the 18 people indicted along with him in Georgia are scheduled to be arraigned next week on charges they participated in a wide-ranging illegal scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

All 19 defendants, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been scheduled for arraignment on September 6, when they may enter pleas as well, according to court records.