Aug 29, 2023

Federal Judge Sets March Trial Date for Trump’s Federal Election Interference Case Transcript

Federal Judge Sets March Trial Date for Trump's Federal Election Interference Case Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDonald TrumpFederal Judge Sets March Trial Date for Trump’s Federal Election Interference Case Transcript

March 4th, 2024, is the tentative date former President Donald Trump will face trial for federal charges related to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the NewsHour. March 4th, 2024: that is the tentative date former president Donald Trump will face trial for federal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Jeff (00:13):

It’s the result of an at-times-contentious hearing today, where Donald Trump’s attorney sparred with special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors and Judge Tanya Chutkan. NPR Justice Correspondent, Carrie Johnson, was in the room for the proceedings and she joins us now. Carrie, it’s always great to see you. So the federal judge has set March 4th, 2024 as the trial date in Donald Trump’s election interference case. Remind us what the two parties were initially asking for.

Carrie Johnson (00:41):

Jeff, they were so far apart. Jack Smith, the special counsel in this case, wanted to start the trial on January 2nd, 2024, and lawyers for former president Donald Trump wanted to kick this trial all the way into the spring of 2026. The judge, Tanya Chutkan, said that’s just too far, but she agreed that Trump and his attorneys need more time to prepare in this landmark case with over 12 million pages of documents, so she set early March 2024 as the trial date in Washington DC.

Jeff (01:12):

Did she explain how she arrived at this March date, and how did she justify it in court today?

Carrie Johnson (01:18):

The judge said that Donald Trump has asked to be treated like any other defendant, and she’s taking him at his word. She pointed out that if he were a professional athlete, she wouldn’t set a trial schedule around the athlete’s performance dates, so the idea that Trump is running again for the White House is not factoring into her decision. She also said Trump had very good lawyers, he’s been on notice for over a year, he’s been under investigation for election interference, and that many of the millions of pages of documents Trump has already seen have come out of his political action committee or even his own tweets and posts on the Truth Social site.

Jeff (01:53):

Well, looking at the calendar, Carrie, Donald Trump’s political calendar is colliding with his trial calendar. How is his legal team going to deal with the onslaught of court dates? Have they explained that yet?

Carrie Johnson (02:07):

It’s really very challenging for them, Jeff. In fact, John Lauro, one of Trump’s lawyers, said today that he’s concerned that Trump will not get his due-process rights because of all of these matters that he’s fighting while trying to run for office. Trump, of course, has called this election interference by the Justice Department and these local prosecutors in New York and in Fulton County, Georgia. And it’s not clear how Trump is going to balance these things. Usually, a criminal defendant is in court for his trial. I do expect Trump to show up for his, but balancing that with the primary schedule and possible debates is going to be really a difficult challenge for him.

Jeff (02:44):

You mentioned the Fulton County case. As you well know, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of the co-defendants in that racketeering case, took the witness stand today in this evidentiary hearing as part of his bid to move this case from Fulton County to the federal court. What is his motivation, Carrie, in trying to move this case?

Carrie Johnson (03:04):

Mark Meadows, the former Chief of Staff, is arguing he’s been charged with crimes in Fulton County, Georgia for acts that he took while he was the Chief of Staff as part of his federal job. And he’s trying to make that case because moving this case from state court into federal court will potentially get him a much more beneficial jury pool from the surrounding counties. It could introduce some delay in this case. And then of course, Jeff, federal court proceedings are not televised, whereas any Georgia State proceedings would be. So there are a number of reasons why Meadows would want this to move this case to federal court, and other defendants, like Jeff Clark, the former Justice Department official in the Trump Administration, may be hot on his heels trying to get their cases moved into federal court too.

Jeff (03:46):

Well, I was going to ask you that. If Meadows is successful, how might that be a blueprint for other co-defendants, and maybe even Donald Trump, if he so chooses, if his legal team so chooses to seek action in a federal court?

Carrie Johnson (03:58):

Yeah. Not all of these defendants are similarly situated. A bunch of them did work for the federal government. Others worked in Georgia, and so they may not have as strong an argument to move their case into federal court. And as for the former president, he’s already said there’s no way he wants a fast trial in Fulton County, Georgia, but he hasn’t signaled whether he’s going to attempt to move his case into federal court.

Jeff (04:21):

NPR Justice Correspondent, Carrie Johnson. Thanks as always.

Carrie Johnson (04:24):

Thank you.

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