OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Washington, D.C. federal Judge Tanya Chutkan has set March 4, 2024, as the trial date for former President Donald Trump’s case over the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The date is significant given it is one day before Super Tuesday when voters in 14 states — including Texas and California — will head to the polls and vote in the GOP presidential primary.
In the DC case, Trump is accused of conspiring to defraud the United States, to obstruct an official proceeding, to obstruct and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and to conspire against rights, according to the case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith. To all charges, Trump has entered a not guilty plea.
However, Trump’s Manhattan trial, initiated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is scheduled to begin on March 25, 2024.
Given the former president’s “rapidly evolving trial schedule,” the judge assigned to Trump’s criminal case in Manhattan appears amenable to rescheduling the trial’s start date, which is currently set for March.
“In light of the many recent developments involving Mr. Trump and his rapidly evolving trial schedule, I do not believe it would be fruitful for us to conference this case on September 15 to discuss scheduling,” Merchan wrote in a letter dated Sept. 1, according to NBC News.
He added that by February it will be clear “whether there are any actual conflicts and if so, what the best adjourn date might be for trial.”
For now, the trial is scheduled for March 25. But Bragg’s case could be in jeopardy.
In the upcoming weeks, Trump’s legal team is expected to submit a number of motions, and John Lauro, who is the president’s attorney, claimed that the president is essentially being prosecuted for “being President Trump.”
According to reports, Lauro is preparing a motion to dismiss the entire case due to selective prosecution because “it provides an advantage to these prosecutors’ boss who’s running a campaign against President Trump.”
Trump has publicly stated numerous times that he believes the four cases against him — two from Biden’s DOJ and one each from Georgia and New York — represent “election interference.”
But this could result in Bragg’s trial taking a hit or possibly being pushed back, the New York Daily News noted.
Bragg is facing a pair of lawsuits related to his filing of charges against Trump, accusing him of illegalities involving a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election facilitated by his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Trump is charged with 34 counts that include allegations of falsifying business records to hide the payment.
Fox News noted in June: “The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank, has sued Bragg under suspicions that he and his office coordinated or communicated with the Justice Department, the White House, and Rep. Daniel Goldman, D-N.Y., about the prosecution. In its lawsuit, Heritage claims that such actions eventually led to investigations by several U.S. House committees into Bragg’s conduct.”
“Regrettably, these questions have not been met with answers. These reports have raised concerns in many circles based in large part upon the longstanding history of President Trump’s political opponents coordinating their activities to systematically weaponize the criminal justice system against him and thereby pervert the course of Justice,” says a filing for the first lawsuit.
Heritage has filed a separate lawsuit claiming that Bragg and his team engaged the services of prominent law firms specializing in white-collar litigation, pro bono. In the lawsuit, Heritage is seeking a court declaration that the requested documents fall under the purview of the New York Freedom of Information Law and should be released. The organization is also requesting that Bragg and his team provide the requested documents and be prohibited from seeking costs and fees related to the specific request mentioned in the case.
Mike Howell, director of Heritage’s Oversight Project, the group’s government watchdog division, said the organization believes Bragg was “coordinating, or otherwise communicating” with Trump’s political opponents and that “there’s reason to believe Bragg was a prolific communicator” via cellphone.
Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz heaped praise on Trump for using a legal maneuver in his battle with Bragg.