Friday Briefing: Trump to Go on Trial

Donald Trump largely sat stonily during the proceedings yesterday.Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

Trump to go on trial next month

A New York judge rejected Donald Trump’s bid for a dismissal of the criminal charges against him stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, clearing the way for his prosecution, the first of a former U.S. president.

The judge’s decision to set a March 25 trial date was a forceful rejection of Trump’s battle-tested legal strategy of running out the clock. The criminal case will be Trump’s first to go to trial and might not be the last: He faces 91 felony counts across four criminal indictments as he seeks to secure the Republican presidential nomination for November’s general election.

Although Trump might portray the Manhattan case as his most trivial and outdated, it presents a threat to his legal strategy. While Trump could seek to shut down the federal cases against him in Washington, D.C., and Florida should he win in November, the Manhattan case is exempt from federal intervention. Trump would not be able to pardon himself, or otherwise deploy the presidency as a legal shield.

What’s next: The trial date in Manhattan leaves the door open for Trump’s federal trial on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election to take place in the late spring or early summer. That case, filed in Washington, is in the hands of the Supreme Court.

Georgia: There was also a hearing in this case, in which Trump is accused of seeking to subvert the 2020 election results in the state, concerning a romantic relationship between the two lead prosecutors.

Civil fraud: A judge is weighing the New York attorney general’s request that he fine Trump nearly $370 million and effectively oust him from the New York business world. That decision could come today.

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