Judge sets up Trump criminal trial for mid-March 2024 GOP primary

The New York judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s criminal case on Tuesday set a trial date for March 25, 2024, just weeks after the “super Tuesday” of the Republican presidential primary.

Trump appeared virtually before Judge Juan Merchan, seated next to his lawyer, Todd Blanche.

During the hearing, Merchan reviewed the terms of a protective order barring Trump from sharing any evidence the prosecutor exchanges with his attorneys on social media.

The protective order said the evidence cannot be shared or posted on “any news or social media platform, including but not limited to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter , Snapchat or YouTube, without prior court approval.”

Trump said the judge “violated” his First Amendment rights by implementing the protective order. He also accused Merchan of engaging in “ELECTORAL INTERFERENCE,” by staging the trial in the middle of the Republican presidential primary.

Trump posted on Truth Social:

I just had a hearing in the New York County Supreme Court where I believe my first amendment rights, “free speech”, were violated, and they imposed a March 25th trial date on us. , right in the middle of the primary season. Very unfair, but that’s exactly what the radical left democrats wanted. This is called ELECTORAL INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our country before!!!

Blanche voiced Trump’s concerns about the protective order during Tuesday’s hearing.

“President Trump is running for president of the United States and is the leading contender,” Blanche told the judge. “He is very concerned that his First Amendment rights are being violated.”

However, Merchan argued that the protective order is not a gag order.

“It is certainly not a gag order and it is not my intention to prevent Mr. Trump from campaigning for president,” Merchan said. “He is free to defend himself against these charges. He is free to campaign. He is free to do just about anything that does not violate the terms of this protective order.

“He understands he has to comply with the order, and if he doesn’t, he’s violating your order,” Blanche told the judge.

“It is certainly not my intention to interfere with Mr. Trump’s ability to campaign for President of the United States,” Merchan said.

Trump’s attorneys received more evidence from the prosecution on Tuesday. Merchan ordered Trump’s attorneys to submit any defense motions by August 29, with the prosecution to respond by October 10.

The next hearing is scheduled for January 4, 2024.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at jdixonhamilton@breitbart.com or follow him on Twitter.


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