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Georgia prosecutor seeks March trial date for Trump and 18 others in election case

That would have the trial starting a day before Super Tuesday, when the most delegates are at stake in the primary contest to decide the next Republican presidential nominee

Fani Willis, Fulton County District Attorney
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to the media after a Grand Jury brought back indictments against former president Donald Trump and 18 of his allies in their attempt to overturn the state's 2020 election results, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 14, 2023.ELIJAH NOUVELAGE (REUTERS)

The prosecutor in Atlanta who obtained an indictment this week against former President Donald Trump and 18 others wants to take the case to trial in March.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in a proposed scheduling order filed with the court Wednesday that she wants the trial to start on March 4.

That would have the trial starting a day before Super Tuesday, when the most delegates are at stake in the primary contest to decide the next Republican presidential nominee. Roughly 14 primaries are set to be held across the country, from California and Texas to Massachusetts and Maine. Trump is currently his party’s dominant frontrunner.

Trump and 18 others were indicted Monday by a Fulton County grand jury. They are accused of committing various crimes as part of a scheme to keep Trump in power after his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Willis is also proposing that arraignments for the defendants happen the week of Sept. 5. She had already set a deadline of noon Aug. 25 for all the defendants to turn themselves in at the Fulton County Jail to be booked. That would seem to suggest that Trump and the others could be making two trips to Georgia in the coming weeks, first to surrender and then later for an arraignment.

Trump’s Georgia-based legal team did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

The proposed order also suggests other deadlines for the case, including for discovery and motions. Willis’ filing says she selected the dates “(i)n light of Defendant Donald Trump’s other criminal and civil matters pending in the courts of our sister sovereigns,” saying this timetable wouldn’t conflict with those other courts already scheduled hearings and trial dates.

Trump is already scheduled to stand trial in March in the separate New York case involving dozens of state charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. He’s scheduled to stand trial in May in the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith alleging he illegally hoarded classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and thwarted government efforts to return them.

And Smith’s team is seeking a Jan. 2 trial date in the federal case over Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

The expansive Georgia indictment, which is nearly 100 pages long, uses the state’s racketeering law to accuse Trump and others of participation in a conspiracy, detailing dozens of actions they are alleged to have taken in an attempt to keep him in power.

The relatively tight calendar Willis is proposing could be complicated by pretrial maneuvering by the defendants. Already on Tuesday, lawyers for former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows filed a quick motion to transfer the case from state to federal court. They said all the actions he took were in service to his White House role, foreshadowing an argument that the Constitution makes him immune from prosecution.

There is widespread speculation that Trump and perhaps others could also try to move the case to federal court.

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