Donald Trump could face the prospect of a criminal trial in the middle of the Republican primaries under plans set out by prosecutors in Georgia.
The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia – where Mr Trump is set to stand trial accused of racketeering and forgery as part of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election – has proposed a trial date of 4 March, 2024.
The timetable would see the trial start just before Super Tuesday, the busiest day of the presidential primary calendar, when Mr Trump is expected to be battling for the Republican nomination.
Roughly 14 primaries are set to be held across the country that day, from California and Texas to Massachusetts and Maine. Trump is currently his party’s frontrunner.
Mr Trump and the others accused of conspiring with him, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been given until next Friday (25 August) to surrender and be booked at Fulton County Jail, ahead of an arraignment due on 5 September.
While Mr Trump has benefited from VIP treatment during past arrests amid tense negotiations with the Secret Service, avoiding the public release of a mugshot and a handcuffed ‘perp walk’ , officials in Georgia have said they plan to treat him like anyone else when he surrenders.
District attorney Fani Willis said she selected the dates “(i)n light of Defendant Donald Trump’s other criminal and civil matters pending in the courts of our sister sovereigns,” saying this timetable wouldn’t conflict with those other courts already scheduled hearings and trial dates.
Mr Trump is already scheduled to stand trial in March in the separate New York case involving dozens of state charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. He’s scheduled to stand trial in May in the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith alleging he illegally hoarded classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and thwarted government efforts to return them.
Mr Smith’s team is seeking a 2 January trial date in the federal case over Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
The relatively tight calendar Willis is proposing could be complicated by pretrial manoeuvring by the defendants. Already on Tuesday, lawyers for former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows filed a quick motion to transfer the case from state to federal court. They said all the actions he took were in service to his White House role, foreshadowing an argument that the Constitution makes him immune from prosecution.
There is widespread speculation that Trump and perhaps others could also try to move the case to federal court.
Additional reporting by agencies