Trump Proposes April 2026 for Federal Trial on 2020 Election Case

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump has proposed April 2026 for a federal trial on 2020 election obstruction allegations against him, arguing a jury shouldn’t consider the case until voters decide next year if he should get another term in the White House.

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In a Thursday night court filing, Trump’s lawyers cited the volume of documents that need to be reviewed, the novelty of the case and a crowded legal calendar in asking US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington for a date after the Nov. 5, 2024, general election. They opposed the proposal from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office to start the trial on Jan. 2.

“This case is not just complex or unusual. It is terra incognita,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “No president has ever been charged with a crime for conduct committed while in office.”

Chutkan is set to hear arguments on Aug. 28 and is expected to announce a decision on the schedule going forward, including a trial date. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyers have signaled they’ll fight the prosecution on multiple fronts.

Prosecutors have estimated needing four to six weeks to present their case to a jury. Trump’s lawyers said it was too early to know their timeline, but for now adopted the same estimate as the government — suggesting the judge should tentatively block off two to three months for a trial.

Whatever the judge decides on the trial, any other dates she orders for pretrial hearings and deadlines for legal briefs will continue to crowd Trump’s calendar as he presses ahead with his third presidential run.

The election obstruction case in Washington is one of four criminal prosecutions against Trump. He’s set for trial in New York on March 25 on state charges that he falsified business records in connection with hush money payments to an adult film star. He has a May 20 trial date in federal court in Florida in the other case Smith’s team brought accusing him of mishandling classified documents and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. He’s pleaded not guilty in both cases.

In the criminal case filed earlier this week in Atlanta, also accusing him of election interference, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office proposed a March 4 trial. Trump hasn’t responded to that yet but is expected to oppose it. He also has a civil trial scheduled for Jan. 15 in New York state court in a defamation case, though he isn’t required to be there in person and didn’t show up for an earlier, related trial.

Trump’s lawyers blasted President Joe Biden’s administration for allegedly swamping him in legal troubles to hinder his campaign to return to the White House.

“The public interest lies in justice and fair trial, not a rush to judgment,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “If the rights to due process and counsel are to mean anything, a defendant must have adequate time to defend himself.”

Trump’s lawyers lost the last time they angled to delay a trial until after the 2024 election. In the Florida documents case, they highlighted Trump’s busy campaign schedule and the challenge of seating an impartial jury in the middle of an election cycle. US District Judge Aileen Cannon wasn’t persuaded, though she did reject the Justice Department’s proposed Dec. 11 trial date as too soon.

Later on Thursday, Trump’s lawyers went to Cannon and, in a filing, accused Smith’s team of proposing dates in the Washington case that they should have known would conflict with the calendar she had already set in the Florida case. They noted, for instance, that Cannon had scheduled a hearing for Dec. 11, which is when prosecutors said they wanted to begin jury selection in Washington.

“In addition to blatantly ignoring this court’s scheduled evidentiary hearing on December 11, 2023, the Special Counsel’s actions appear to be intentionally motivated to prevent President Trump from meaningfully preparing for either trial and to simultaneously prevent him from running a campaign for President of the United States,” his lawyers wrote.

The case is US v. Trump, 23-cr-257, US District Court, District of Columbia.

--With assistance from Erik Larson.

(Updates with additional Trump filing in Florida)

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