Critical court dates have been set in two criminal cases in the United States accusing former President Donald Trump of seeking to derail the results of the 2020 election that he lost.
A court docket on Monday showed that Trump’s arraignment on election interference charges in the US state of Georgia will take place on September 6.
Separately, a judge in Washington, DC, set March 4, 2024, as the start date for the former president’s criminal trial on federal charges related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in a failed bid to keep himself in power.
“The public has a right to a prompt and efficient resolution of this matter,” US District Judge Tanya Chutkan said when setting the federal trial date.
The former president faces four separate criminal indictments, including two on election interference allegations, but has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Monday’s ruling by Chutkan means that Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination race, will likely have to stand trial in at least three separate criminal cases during the thick of campaigning.
He took to his Truth Social platform on Monday morning before the federal trial date was set to accuse his Democratic rival, President Joe Biden, and other officials of seeking to derail his re-election bid.
“It will only get worse because these deranged lunatics know no bounds. Someday, however, Sanity will again prevail,” Trump wrote.
Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the federal prosecution of Trump on the election interference charges, had proposed a January 2 trial start date.
But the ex-president’s lawyers, citing the time they say is needed to review over 11 million pages of documents received from prosecutors, had asked for the trial to begin in April 2026 – more than a year after the 2024 election.
Chutkan, the judge, said on Monday that they did not need that long. “The defence’s proposed date of April 2026 is far beyond what is necessary,” she said.
Trump’s trial is due to start one day before “Super Tuesday”, when more than a dozen US states will hold their presidential nominating contests.
Chutkan had said at a hearing earlier this month that she would “take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard the integrity of the case”.
She also warned that “inflammatory” statements about the proceedings could prompt her to move the case more quickly to trial to prevent witness intimidation or jury pool contamination.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear if Trump would be required to appear in person at the Georgia court for his arraignment on 13 state charges next week, or if he would be allowed to be arraigned virtually.
He will formally hear the charges against him and likely enter a plea during the arraignment.
The hearing is scheduled less than two weeks after Trump on Friday surrendered at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on charges that he and 18 associates took part in a conspiracy to “unlawfully change the outcome” of the 2020 election in the state.
During his 20-minute stop at the jail, Trump was fingerprinted and became the first former president in US history to have his mugshot taken.
His Georgia arraignment will mark the fourth so far this year.
The former president was arraigned in federal court in Washington, DC earlier this month as part of the federal indictment linked to his efforts to subvert the 2020 vote.
He also appeared in a New York state court in April on charges connected to hush money payments made to a porn star and in a federal court in Florida in June over allegations he mishandled secret government documents.
Trial dates have already been set in the New York case, which will begin on March 25, 2024, and in the federal documents case in Florida, set to begin on May 20, 2024.
Both trials are set to fall in the thick of the presidential campaign season, creating a likely logistical headache for Trump, the faraway GOP frontrunner.
Meanwhile, a trial date for one of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, has been set for October 23, 2023 after Chesebro asked for the process to be expedited.
The date has raised the prospect that Trump and his allies could face a trial in the state within months, although lawyers for several defendants, including the former president, have signalled they will seek a separate trial from Chesebro to avoid the speedy start.
Under the US constitution, a candidate can run for and become president even if they are charged or convicted of a crime.
However, the situation marks uncharted territory for the country because Trump is the first current or former president to face criminal charges.