Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office wants to put former President Donald Trump on trial for his attempted coup in January next year—a move that, if approved by a judge, could brand him a felon before the biggest GOP presidential primaries.
In a filing on Thursday, the special counsel’s office proposed a trial date of January 2, 2024, which they say would take “no longer than four to six weeks.”
Should U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya approve that date, Trump’s trial could be done and dusted before the GOP’s primaries in South Carolina and Michigan, with plenty of time before the delegate-rich slate of Super Tuesday states in March.
Trump already faces two other separate criminal trials in March and May in New York and Florida, respectively. However, those trials have been delayed enough that Trump still managed to snag key elections before risking the embarrassing reality of being convicted of felonies while asking voters to make him the Republican nominee.
Prosecutors working on these different cases all wanted earlier dates, but judges gave into Trump’s demands for more time. While his lawyers cited the sheer amount of overwhelming work required to sort through millions of pages of evidence, the former president has used political rallies and online posts to accuse prosecutors of trying to derail his re-election campaign. In the end, judges gave Trump a little extra time.
U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Trump himself appointed, was the most rewarding by scheduling the trial long after nearly every important primary election. Part of that delay may have to do with the fact that she is overseeing an expanding criminal case involving his mishandling of classified records at his oceanside estate of Mar-a-Lago, an investigation that also resulted in criminal charges against Trump’s Diet Coke valet and his estate’s property manager.
However, Smith’s decision to indict Trump—and none of his alleged Jan. 6 insurrection co-conspirators—was widely perceived by legal scholars as an attempt to streamline the case by making it faster to prosecute.
On top of the Trump legal team seeking delays, the Trump campaign has also been wary of a potential contested convention, readying for a floor fight next summer should factions within the RNC attempt to boot him from the ticket.