Special counsel Jack Smith had originally proposed the trial start in January, with jury selection beginning in December. The March 4 date is just eight days before Georgia’s March 12 presidential primary and a day before the Super Tuesday primaries.
It’s unclear how Chutkan’s calendar would impact Willis’ timetable. While she proposed March 4 as a start date, it will ultimately be up to the judge to determine the court schedule. Complicating things is that one of the 19 defendants in Fulton County has asked for a speedy trial, set to begin Oct. 23.
Trump lawyer John Lauro objected to the trial date set by Chutkan and said defense attorneys had received an enormous amount of records from Smith’s team. Prosecutor Molly Gaston argued the public had an interest in moving the case forward and the evidence has long been known to the defense.
“What is the balance of the defendant’s right and need to prepare for trial and, on the other hand, the public’s exceedingly and unprecedently strong interest in a speedy trial?” Gaston said. Trump, she said, is accused of “attempting to overturn an election and disenfranchise millions.”
Willis also asked for arraignments to take place for all 19 defendants the week of Sept. 5. They have been scheduled for Sept. 6 in Judge Scott McAfee’s courtroom. Arraignments are set to start with Trump’s at 9:30 a.m. followed by those for Trump’s former personal lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 9:45 a.m. and continue in 15 minute increments until former Coffee County elections supervisor 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 Oct. 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.