Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for his arraignment at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The federal trial in the case accusing former President Donald Trump of knowingly lying about the 2020 presidential election results and trying to overturn them will begin in March, a federal judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who waived Trump’s appearance for the first hearing, scheduled jury selection to begin March 4, despite protests from the former president’s attorney John Lauro that the date is “inconsistent with Trump’s right to due process.”
The trial would come amid an important date in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, where Trump remains the front-runner despite facing numerous criminal charges in multiple cases. March 5 is “Super Tuesday,” when 14 states hold nominating contests and the leader in the race establishes a near-insurmountable advantage.
The former president’s latest indictment was handed up Aug. 14 in Fulton County, Georgia, where state prosecutors allege 2020 election interference.
Lauro and co-counsel Todd Blanche requested the federal trial against Trump not begin until January 2026 so that they could review the 12.8 million pages of discovery provided by U.S. prosecutors.
“Discovery in 2023 is not sitting in a warehouse looking at documents,” Chutkan said. “It’s reviewed by electronic searches.”
Federal prosecutors maintain the evidence was given in a searchable database, and that much of the information has already been available to the defense — including publicly available court documents, material housed by the National Archives and Records Administration, and Trump’s own social media posts.
Molly Gaston, an assistant U.S. attorney, told Chutkan that a list of approximately 47,000 duplicative key documents has already been presented to the defense.
“Here’s what we view as the most important: It’s all in a very organized fashion,” she said, referring to the list.
Chutkan called the government’s digital production of the documents a “considerable” effort.
“This case is not going to trial in 2026,” she said.
“You’ve known this was coming,” she told Lauro. “No experienced counsel would have been sitting on their hands waiting for an indictment.”
A federal grand jury handed up an indictment against the former president in early August on four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of, and attempt to obstruct, an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.
The 45-page indictment says that despite knowing his statements were false, then-President Trump worked with co-conspirators to produce fake electors and repeatedly claimed that he won the presidency, eventually leading to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump, 77, appeared at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington for his arraignment Aug. 3 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya.
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