Donald Trump’s muddled calendar of criminal cases may get a lot clearer this week.
Each of Trump’s four criminal cases is set to reach a clarifying inflection point over the next few days as he barrels toward a rematch with President Joe Biden.
In Trump’s New York case, a judge is slated to finalize the timetable for his trial on charges that he falsified business records to cover up an affair with a porn star in the closing weeks of the 2016 election.
In his Washington, D.C., case, the Supreme Court may signal whether it will quickly resolve Trump’s claim that he is “immune” from federal charges stemming from his effort to subvert the 2020 election.
In his Georgia case, where Trump is also facing state charges related to the 2020 election, a judge has scheduled a Thursday hearing to examine an effort by Trump and several co-defendants to disqualify the prosecutors.
And in his Florida case, a judge is weighing Trump’s latest motion to postpone key deadlines — a likely precursor to delaying the May 20 trial on charges of hoarding classified records at his Mar-a-Lago home.
Here’s a look at each of the cases and what to expect this week:
Immunity bid lands at SCOTUS
Trump’s first order of business this week was to
ask the nine justices of the Supreme Court to block a lower court’s ruling that he is
not immune from the Washington, D.C., criminal charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
Trump’s formal request, which he filed Monday afternoon, requires at least five justices to agree to “stay” the earlier ruling in order for Trump to continue staving off his federal election-subversion trial. Though Smith is sure to resist a stay altogether, what’s more significant is
what the court signals next — whether it will take up and resolve the immunity issue in an expedited way or allow it to linger on the court’s docket into the fall.
A decision to do the latter would effectively doom Smith’s effort to put Trump on trial in 2024.
The high court could also reject the stay or simply decline to take up Trump’s appeal at all, which would send the case back to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for a potential springtime trial. Though this outcome is seen as less likely, any decision by the justices will help crystallize Trump’s trial calendar in Washington.
The Supreme Court’s involvement also comes as the justices are mulling a separate Trump issue not directly tied to any of his four criminal cases: the constitutional question of whether states can deem him an insurrectionist and bar him from their ballots. The high court
heard arguments on that question last week, and at least eight of the nine justices appeared likely to side with Trump.
Trump’s face time with Judge Cannon
On Monday morning, the former president
made an unexpected visit to the small Fort Pierce, Florida, courthouse where U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is managing the other criminal case brought by Smith: one claiming that Trump concealed reams of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and then resisted efforts by federal investigators to retrieve them.
It was the first time Trump came face to face with either of the judges in his federal cases, though the interaction between Trump and his judicial appointee Monday occurred out of public view because the hearing, which involved classified evidence, was closed to the public and the press. The face time is notable in part because it comes as Cannon appears to be strongly weighing his demand to postpone the trial indefinitely.
Smith’s team has expressed deepening frustration with Cannon, issuing filings that at times betray exasperation with her rulings and her tendency to countenance some of Trump’s portrayals of the facts, which they say present a distorted version of events.
Willis faces a reckoning
There’s still no trial date set for Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, where he’s been charged, alongside 18 co-defendants, with conspiring to corrupt the results of the 2020 election in the state. District Attorney Fani Willis has asked for an August start date, but she’s spent the past month fending off allegations of unethical conduct by Trump and several of his co-defendants.
The allegations center on a romantic relationship between Willis and a special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, whom Willis hired to help run the case on a contract basis. The defendants allege that Willis and Wade improperly benefited from the prosecution by using income Wade earned through his contract to take vacations together.
Judge Scott McAfee has set a Thursday hearing to review the allegations, and he
suggested Monday that if the defendants can prove key aspects of their allegations, it could result in the prosecutors being thrown off the case.
Setting a date in New York
After months of relative silence, the first criminal case brought against Trump — on New York state law charges he falsified business records to cover up payments to women claiming he had extramarital affairs with them — is scheduled to be back in court Thursday.
At the hearing, Justice Juan Merchan is expected to rule on a series of motions Trump filed last year challenging various aspects of the case against him, including one
in which Trump argued the case “has prejudiced President Trump and the public by interfering with his presidential campaign.”
Unless Trump succeeds in getting the whole indictment tossed out, the judge is also expected to signal whether he expects the trial in the case to go forward as scheduled on March 25 or at some later point. Should the trial date remain unchanged, the judge and the lawyers for Trump and for the Manhattan district attorney’s office may discuss some of the procedural aspects of the trial, such as security concerns about jurors.
Merchan could also disclose whether he’s had any discussions about timing with the judges assigned to Trump’s three other criminal cases. Chutkan, the judge in Trump’s Washington case, noted that she and Merchan had been in contact shortly after Trump was indicted in Washington to help avoid overlapping trial schedules.