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US Prosecutor Wants Trump Racketeering Trial to Begin in March

FILE - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after a Grand Jury brought back indictments against former president Donald Trump and 18 of his allies in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 14, 2023.

Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis called Wednesday for her sweeping 2020 election interference trial against former U.S. President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants to start March 4, possibly further filling up Trump’s 2024 calendar while he seeks the Republican presidential nomination to reclaim the White House.

The trial date on the racketeering accusations against Trump will be set by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who was randomly assigned to hear the case in Atlanta, the capital of the Southern state of Georgia. Trump’s lawyers almost assuredly will ask for a much later date, possibly after the November presidential election.

But if McAfee accedes to the prosecutor’s request, the trial would begin a day before what is known in the U.S. political world as Super Tuesday, when 14 states are holding political party presidential nominating elections. Trump will be on the Republican ballot against an array of opponents.

Monday’s indictment in Georgia was the fourth in about four months filed against the former U.S. leader. With his mounting legal peril, he could in the first half of 2024 be spending more days in courtrooms than campaigning for president.

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, at Windham High School in Windham, New Hampshire.
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, at Windham High School in Windham, New Hampshire.

All of the trials Trump, 77, is facing are expected to last for weeks. He has said that with four indictments, he is assured of capturing the White House again. His Republican political support, according to national polling, has held steady. But he has complained bitterly that the charges are designed to undermine his campaign.

In all, he is facing 91 charges, all felonies, across the four cases. If convicted, he could face years in prison, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

The trial date Willis proposed would conflict with another case in New York set for trial in late March, although the prosecutor there has signaled that he would be willing to move his case to another date.

In the New York case, Trump is accused of falsifying business records at his Trump Organization real estate conglomerate to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn film actress ahead of his successful 2016 presidential campaign to keep her from talking about a one-night tryst she says she had with him a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair occurred.

In late May, Trump is scheduled to stand trial in Florida on a 40-count indictment brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, which accuses Trump of illegally holding highly sensitive national security documents at his oceanside Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House in January 2021.

Trump is also accused of conspiring with his personal valet and the property manager at Mar-a-Lago to keep from turning over the classified materials to federal investigators.

Smith also accused Trump in Washington in a four-count indictment of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 loss. He has asked for the trial to start January 2, 2024. Government prosecutors say it might take four to six weeks to present their case against the former president.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to state their desired trial date for the Washington case on Thursday. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan says she will set the trial date on August 28.