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Judge Chutkan sets Trump's Jan. 6 trial for early March

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

March 4, 2024. That is the date a federal judge has chosen for former President Trump's trial in Washington. It's related to the charges surrounding his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. And NPR's Jaclyn Diaz is here to tell us more. Hey, Jaclyn.

JACLYN DIAZ, BYLINE: Hey.

CHANG: OK, so walk us through what happened today.

DIAZ: So as you said, Judge Tanya Chutkan chose March 4, 2024 as the start of Trump's trial in Washington, D.C. Now, this is a separate case from the ones happening in New York, Florida and Georgia.

CHANG: Right.

DIAZ: Chutkan can chose this date despite a strong push by Trump's attorney to get this trial pushed back all the way to 2026. That's well after the presidential election. But the judge wasn't buying it. According to NPR's Carrie Johnson, who was at the hearing, Trump's attorney, John Lauro, got heated in his attempt to get the judge to delay the trial. Lauro said that the trial date was inconsistent with Trump's right to due process, but the judge said she was going to treat Trump just like every other defendant. Prosecutors wanted to see a January 2, 2024 start date. Lauro did tip his hand as to the next possible steps he may take for this case. He hinted at a number of legal motions he plans to make, including a motion to dismiss the whole indictment.

CHANG: OK. There are several indictments currently against former President Trump. Remind us of the charges in this indictment.

DIAZ: So Trump has pleaded not guilty to four charges. Prosecutors allege that Trump helped orchestrate a plan to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election results. This conspiracy turned violent on January 6, 2021, when rioters took over the U.S. Capitol. His official charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy against rights for allegedly trying to disenfranchise American voters by trying to overturn the 2020 election. Trump and his allies continue to call these charges and every other criminal case against him election interference and fraud.

CHANG: And just to remind everyone, I mean, Trump is facing three other possible criminal trials in three separate states - right? - New York, Georgia and Florida, and a separate civil trial, also in New York, that he has on the docket for next year. How does this fourth criminal case in Washington, D.C., fit into that overall timeline?

DIAZ: So if the dates for this D.C. trial and Trump's other cases hold up, then he is in for a hectic 2024 for several reasons. He is also, of course, in the middle of a presidential election, and he's the Republican front-runner. So Trump will be balancing his right to sit for all these trials with his presidential campaign. Now, in a statement today, a Trump spokesperson said setting a trial date for the day before Super Tuesday shows the Biden regime is no longer hiding its nakedly political motivations. Now get your calendar out.

CHANG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CHANG: Got it.

DIAZ: On October 3 in New York, Trump will face a trial for the civil lawsuit filed by State Attorney General Letitia James. This is over claims that Trump and his company's executive team committed fraud by inflating his net worth by billions of dollars. Later that month, if the date doesn't change, Trump could face his first criminal trial in Georgia. That case is tied to his and his 18 co-defendants' attempts to overturn the election results in that state. And now going into 2024, on January 15, it's the Iowa caucuses.

CHANG: Right.

DIAZ: Later that month, Trump's second civil trial in the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit will start.

CHANG: OK. And the D.C. trial's set for March 4, 2024. That was NPR's Jaclyn Diaz. Thank you so much, Jaclyn.

DIAZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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