From left: Judge Tanya Chutkan, Trump and special counsel Jack Smith. Image Credit: Photo by various sources / AFP

WASHINGTON:  Donald Trump will stand trial on March 4, 2024 in federal court in Washington for trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat, a federal judge ruled on Monday, setting up a crowded schedule for the former president next year as he campaigns to recapture the White House.

The ruling by US Judge Tanya Chutkan means that Trump will likely have to stand trial in at least three separate criminal cases during the thick of the Republican presidential nominating contest. A trial date in a fourth criminal case has not yet been set.

Trump’s lawyers had pressed for an April 2026 trial date, well past the November 2024 presidential election, arguing that they needed time to go through the 12.8 million pages of evidence the government had amassed.

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But Chutkan said they did not need that long. “The defense’s proposed date of April 2026 is far beyond what is necessary,” she said.

Trump’s trial is due to start one day before “Super Tuesday,” when more than a dozen U.S. states will hold their presidential nominating contests.

He is also scheduled to stand trial in New York on March 25 on state charges of concealing a hush money payment to a porn star.

A third trial is scheduled for May 20, 2024 on federal charges in Florida, alleging that Trump illegally retained classified records after leaving the White House and tried to obstruct justice.

Timeline will likely shift

A trial date for the fourth criminal case in Georgia has not yet been set. Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis has requested a start of March 4, but Chutkan’s decision means that timeline will likely shift.

"Mr. Trump will have to make the trial date work, regardless of his schedule,” Chutkan said.

Trump did not attend Monday’s hearing. He has previously lashed out at Chutkan, saying, without evidence, that she is biased against him. Chutkan has warned that Trump should stop posting inflammatory statements online about witnesses or others involved in the case.

Trump has portrayed all four criminal prosecutions as politically motivated attempts to stop him from returning to power.

He has pleaded not guilty in three of those cases, and is due in a Georgia court on Sept. 6 to enter a plea in the fourth case, according to a court filing issued on Monday. That case also stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat.

One of his 18 co-defendants in Georgia, his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is pressing to move his trial to federal court, where he might face a more sympathetic jury.

In Washington, Trump’s attorneys say they need time to sort through the government’s evidence.

This man’s liberty and life is at stake and he deserves an adequate representation” attorney John Lauro said.

Prosecutors say much of the evidence consists of public materials, such as Trump’s statements and congressional records.

They said on Monday that they have handed over most of the evidence in the case, which totals about 12.8 million pages.

Chutkan said Trump’s legal team should have already gotten a good start. “Mr. Trump’s counsel has known this was coming for some time” she said