Former President Donald Trump's federal prosecutors in the 2020 election case won an early victory when the Washington, D.C., federal judge hearing that case set a March 4, 2024, trial date, rejecting Trump's lawyers' request to put off the trial until 2026, the New York Times reports. The decision by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan potentially brought the proceeding into conflict with the three other trials that Trump is facing, underscoring the extraordinary complexities of his legal situation and the intersection of the prosecutions with his campaign to return to the White House. The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., has proposed taking Trump to trial on charges of tampering with the election in that state on March 4 as well. Another case, in Manhattan, in which Trump has been accused of more than 30 felonies connected to hush-money payments to a porn actress in the run-up to the 2016 election, has been scheduled to go to trial on March 25. And if the trial in Washington lasts more than 11 weeks, it could bump up against Trump’s other federal trial, on charges of illegally retaining classified documents after he left office and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them. That trial is scheduled to begin in Florida in late May.
Chutkan's ruling came on the same day as an eight-hour hearing in an Atlanta federal court over demands by Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to remove his Georgia state case to federal court. Meadows took the stand to claim that he believed that his actions detailed in the indictment fell within the scope of his duties as chief of staff, which might provide grounds for removal. But Meadows, charged with Trump and 17 others on state racketeering charges for allegedly trying to interfere with the 2020 election results, appeared at times to be unsure of himself, saying he could not recall certain details of events in late 2020 and early 2021. Meadows said Trump instructed him to make the infamous call to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, because he believed that fraud had occurred, and wanted to resolve questions about the ballot signature verification process. “We all want accurate elections,” Meadows said at one point. If the effort to move the case to federal court succeeds, it could benefit the Trump side by broadening the jury pool beyond Fulton County into outlying counties where the former president has somewhat more support. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said at the conclusion of the day's hearing that he will rule "as fast as possible," but he acknowledged he's on unprecedented ground, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.