Donald Trump’s trial on 34 charges related to the alleged payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels will begin on March 25, 2024, right in the middle of the presidential primary season. The decision was announced by Justice Juan Merchan at a hearing on Tuesday, which Trump attended remotely.
Trump’s ongoing legal difficulties are likely to play into the upcoming Republican primary, and 2024 presidential election if he secures the nomination. Ron DeSantis is expected to formally announce he is running for president on Wednesday evening, with polling indicating he is Trump’s closest rival for the GOP nomination.
Justice Merchan told Trump that the March 25 date is “immovable,” according to MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin. Merchan added “he expects all of the parties and their [legal] counsel to make themselves available, and that nothing can interfere with that trial.”
While exact dates have yet to be finalized, the Republican presidential primaries are expected to get underway in February 2024, with votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and finish in June. Trump’s court data comes just weeks after Super Tuesday, a key date in the primary calendar.
The New York Times reported that Trump “reacted angrily” when his court date was announced, though exactly what he said isn’t known as his microphone was muted.
On his Truth Social website after the hearing, Trump wrote that the March 25 date amounts to “election interference.”
He commented: “Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season.
“Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted. It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before!!!”
Newsweek has contacted Trump for comment via the press inquiry form on his official website.
Trump was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in April, related to claims he orchestrated the payment of hush money to Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election, so she would keep quiet about an alleged affair. The former president pleaded not guilty, and has consistently denied having any sexual relationship with Daniels.
Earlier this month, a Manhattan court ordered Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages, after concluding he sexually abused and defamed her in a civil case. Trump, who has consistently denied the allegations, described the case as “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in additional damages from Trump, after saying that the former president further defamed her during a CNN appearance on May 10. Trump says he did nothing wrong, and added that he is appealing the original verdict.
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