Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after surrendering at the Fulton County jail on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. Trump was booked on multiple charges related to an alleged plan to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

A federal judge has set a trial date of March 4 for former President Donald Trump’s federal election case trial.

It’s the date Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had proposed as the start date for Trump and his 18 co-defendants.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan set the date Monday morning during a hearing in federal court in Washington D.C. Trump’s team of lawyers originally asked the trial to be pushed back until April 2026, after the presidential election.

“Setting a trial date does not depend and should not depend on the defendant’s personal and professional obligations,” Chutkan said, Politico reported. “Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule.”

Special counsel Jack Smith had originally proposed that trial start in January, with jury selection beginning in December, NBC News reported.

The March 4 date is just eight days before Georgia’s presidential primary, which is set for March 12, and a day before the Super Tuesday primaries. During a press conference announcing the indictment, Willis said she hoped the case could go to trial within six months but conceded the decision will ultimately be up to the judge to determine the court schedule.

In the proposed schedule filed by Willis two weeks ago, she also asked for arraignments to take place for all 19 defendants, including Trump, on the week of Sept. 5.

All arraignments have now been scheduled to take place on Sept. 6 in Judge Scott McAfee’s courtroom. Arraignments are set to start with Trump at 9:30 a.m. followed by Rudy Giuliani at 9:45 a.m. and continue in 15 minute increments until Misty Hampton’s arraignment is held at 3 p.m.

In Georgia, defendants can waive arraignments.

On Monday, a hearing was held in federal court to determine whether former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will have his case move from Fulton County to federal court. Other defendants have also filed similar motions and Trump is expected to do so too.

In Fulton County, former Trump campaign attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro have filed motions for a speedy trial. McAfee set an October 23 trial date for Chesebro. It’s likely that Powell’s motion will now add her to Chesebro’s court schedule, observers say, and others who demand speedy trials in the days ahead could also be added to that calendar, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Jozsef Papp

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