Former President Donald Trump is requesting that the federal judge overseeing the criminal case brought against him by special counsel Jack Smith for election subversion set the trial date for April 2026.
In a filing on Thursday evening, Trump is urging US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, DC, to reject Smith’s proposal for a trial in January 2024, arguing that the proposed timeline is overly swift, allowing just four months from the start of discovery to jury selection.
“The government’s intention is clear: to deprive President Trump and his legal team of a fair opportunity to prepare for trial. The Court should deny the government’s request,” wrote the former president’s lawyers.
Instead, they are asking the judge to schedule jury selection and the trial for April 2026. Chutkan, appointed by former President Barack Obama, will ultimately determine the trial’s start date, a decision expected by the end of the month.
Among other reasons, Trump’s legal team contends that Smith’s suggested trial timeline would clash with other criminal and civil cases where the former president is a defendant, including Smith’s case involving classified documents, the New York hush money case, and the Georgia election subversion case.
As previously reported by CNN, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis aims to commence her trial in March 2024. The federal judge overseeing the documents case has scheduled that trial for May 2024, while the New York case is set to begin trial in March of the following year.
“President Trump must prepare for each of these trials in the coming months. All are independently complex and will require substantial work to defend. Several will likely require President Trump’s presence at some or all trial proceedings,” stated the lawyers.
“While there’s no doubt that President Trump’s responsibility to diligently prepare for this case doesn’t cease due to other pending matters, the Court should consider the practical ramifications of these parallel prosecutions on President Trump’s ability to meet the extremely brief deadlines proposed by the government.”
Federal prosecutors had initially sought a trial start date of January 2, 2024, for the 2020 election interference criminal trial, which would be just days before the anniversary of the US Capitol attack and the Iowa caucuses.
The special counsel’s office stated in a filing the previous week that their evidence presentation in the trial would take “no longer than four to six weeks,” proposing jury selection to occur in December, prior to the winter holidays.
“A January 2 trial date would uphold the public’s significant interest in a swift trial – an interest safeguarded by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but particularly important here, where the defendant, a former president, faces charges of conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstructing the certification of election results, and undermining citizens’ valid votes,” prosecutors wrote in their filing.
Trump promptly objected to the proposal in a post on Truth Social, asserting at the time that any trials against him should wait until after the presidential election.
“Such a trial, which should never take place due to my First Amendment rights and extensive BIDEN CORRUPTION, should only occur, if at all, AFTER THE ELECTION. The same applies to other Fake Biden Indictments. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!”
Trump contends that Smith’s suggested trial schedule for the election case conflicts with the documents case In a separate filing on Thursday evening, Trump’s lawyers lodged a complaint with Judge Aileen Cannon – a Trump appointee overseeing the classified documents case in Florida – alleging that Smith’s trial timeline clashes with the schedule Cannon has established in her case.
The conflict in question, as argued by Trump’s team, pertains to a hearing Cannon set for December 11, which coincides with the day Smith proposed for beginning jury selection in the election subversion case. Trump’s legal team is now requesting that Cannon compel Smith’s office to “clarify its rationale” for proposing overlapping schedules.
The filing also alleges that Smith has “evaded” Cannon’s scheduling order.
“The Special Counsel’s actions appear to be deliberately aimed at preventing Trump from effectively preparing for either trial and simultaneously hindering his ability to campaign for President of the United States,” the filing asserts. Although it cites a Justice Department manual for prosecutors, the filing doesn’t reference any case law.
Earlier on Thursday, Cannon canceled tentative plans for a hearing on August 25 regarding a protective order for evidence in the documents case. She stated in an order that the proceeding would take place under seal at a different time and location to discuss “sensitive, security-related issues concerning classified discovery.”