The Trump Cases: Highlights from Last Week and What’s Coming This Week

REUTERS/Megan Varner
People exit the Lewis R. Slaton Courthouse, as former U.S. president Donald Trump and 18 of his allies face a deadline to surrender to the jail in the criminal case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis accusing him and his associates of trying to reverse his 2020 election loss, in Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., August 25, 2023.

Former president Donald Trump’s booking in Atlanta last week was his fourth of the year, and the first in which authorities released his mug shot. Pretrial jousting is now officially underway in all four of Trump’s criminal cases – a packed schedule of court dates that will play out uneasily alongside his campaign activities as the front-runner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary race.

Trump, the first former president ever charged with a crime, faces dozens of felony counts in Florida of improperly retaining classified documents after leaving the White House and obstructing government efforts to get them back; federal charges in D.C. of conspiring to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory; separate state charges of racketeering conspiracy to change the outcome of the election in Georgia, which resulted in last week’s scowling booking photo; and state charges in New York of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments during the 2016 election.

To help you keep track, here is a recap of what happened with the various cases last week, and what to watch for in the week ahead:

Georgia 2020 election indictment

Trump surrendered Thursday evening at the Fulton County Jail in downtown Atlanta, where authorities booked him, recorded his weight and height, and collected at least 10 percent of his $200,000 bond so that he could walk free pending trial. It’s the standard process that people go through when they are charged with a state crime in Georgia. But it became an unprecedented moment when authorities released his mug shot.

Trump’s 18 co-defendants – including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who led Trump’s effort to investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election – also surrendered before a noon Friday deadline set by District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D), the top prosecutor in Fulton County.

Several have filed pretrial requests to judges. For example, Kenneth Chesebro, one of the architects of Trump’s failed fake elector scheme, asked to have his trial within 70 days. The request appeared to be about putting pressure on Willis, who promptly proposed an October trial date for all the defendants. A judge agreed, but only for Chesebro as of now, leaving it unclear whether his case would be separated from the others.

The Oct. 23 start date seems very unlikely, given the complexity of the case and questions about potentially separating the defendants and moving at least some to federal court. Not to mention pretrial legal hearings Trump has on his calendar for the other cases.

Federal election obstruction indictment in D.C.

The timing of Trump’s D.C. trial was a focus of continued sparring last week between the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers. Replying to Trump’s proposed date of April 2026 – 17 months after the 2024 presidential election – federal prosecutors essentially said: Not a chance.

Prosecutors want the trial to start in January 2024, which could mean a verdict would come in the middle of the Republican primary season. Trump’s lawyers told trial judge Tanya S. Chutkan they need years to analyze millions of pages of evidence. Prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith say that time frame ignores the fact that defense lawyers can search the material electronically, and much of it is already known to them.

It is ultimately up to Chutkan. She has said she would like to set a trial date at a hearing scheduled for Monday. But federal court schedules are notorious for sliding as pretrial proceedings and possible appeals issues play out, so don’t write any of these dates in ink in your calendar just yet.

Florida federal indictment for mishandling classified documents

Prosecutors publicly confirmed past Washington Post reporting in a court filing last week, saying Trump technology worker Yuscil Taveras lied to the feds at first about what he knew about alleged efforts to delete security footage at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home and private club.

Taveras initially told investigators he had no information about any such efforts, the filing said. But after Trump and his personal assistant, Waltine “Walt” Nauta, were charged in June with obstructing federal efforts to retrieve classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, the court filing says, Taveras changed his lawyer – and then told a very different story.

He provided testimony implicating Trump, Nauta and a third employee in a scheme to delete security camera footage. That’s important, because the cameras captured the two workers moving around boxes of government documents as officials were trying to get them back. Prosecutors used the information from Taveras to file additional charges in July against Trump and Nauta, and to indict the other employee, Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, the court filing said.

The official focus of the court filing that told this story was whether there is a potential conflict of interest for Stanley Woodward, the lawyer who is representing Nauta – and is being paid by Trump’s PAC – but previously also represented Taveras, who is now a key witness. Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the Florida case, has not yet weighed in.

In other news, Cannon had previously scheduled an Aug. 25 hearing to discuss how to handle the mountains of classified evidence in this case. But she later rescheduled that hearing and said it will not be open to the public. The court docket does not say when the rescheduled hearing will occur.

Prosecutors have already handed over their nonclassified evidence for Trump and his co-defendants’ lawyers to review, according to previous court filings. But they have apparently not given them the classified evidence at the crux of the case because they have not yet settled on how that material should be handled. Cannon will ultimately determine the conditions. You can read more about the outstanding disagreements here.

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New York indictment for falsifying business records

There has been no major action in this case, Trump’s first indictment, since Aug. 14, when New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan rejected Trump’s request that he recuse himself from the case. Merchan has scheduled a trial to begin in March.

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What’s coming this week? Court hearings in D.C., Atlanta

Monday could be a big day for Trump’s legal proceedings.

Judge Chutkan has a 10 a.m. hearing to talk about a timeline for the pretrial proceedings and an eventual trial. She could set a trial date, or at least signal her thinking on the subject. The hearing is open to the media, and we will be reporting from the courthouse, looking to see what sorts of questions the judge asks – and if either side provides any glimpses into their legal strategies.

Also on Monday, lawyers for Mark Meadows – Trump’s former chief of staff – will try to persuade a federal judge in Atlanta to move the state charges against him into federal court. Meadows was charged with two crimes for his alleged role in trying to thwart the 2020 election results. He has argued that he should not be charged since the alleged violations occurred while he was performing his duties as a federal official.

This week could also see the scheduling of arraignments in Atlanta for Trump and his co-defendants. It is unclear whether the judge will require the defendants, all of whom trekked to the Fulton County Jail for booking last week, to return to Atlanta to appear in person or will allow them to appear virtually.