With Trials and Primaries, Trump Faces His Own March Madness. Here’s What’s Happening in All the Case

Washington Post photo by Demetrius Freeman
Former president Donald Trump campaigns at the Iowa State Fair last month.

Two criminal trials. More than 20 presidential primaries or caucuses. On paper at least, next March is shaping up to be an action-packed crucible for former president Donald Trump. His federal trial on charges of obstructing the 2020 election results is now slated for early March, and his separate business fraud case in New York is supposed to start later that month, on top of Super Tuesday and a dozen other state nominating contests.

To help you keep track of the four – yes, four – pending criminal Trump trials, here is a guide to what may happen in the coming week, followed by a recap of what happened last week.

This week: Possible arraignments, rulings

Trump was scheduled to appear in court in Georgia on Wednesday to enter his plea to the state charges he faces over efforts to undo the state’s 2020 election results. But he decided to enter his not-guilty plea in writing instead. He has also pleaded not guilty in his other arraignments this year.

We are waiting to see whether a federal judge in Georgia will grant Meadows’s request to move his state charges related to election interference into federal court. Meadows says the allegations laid out in the Georgia indictment occurred while he was carrying out his duties as a federal official and he is thus protected by federal law. (Some legal experts say it’s a bit more complicated than that.) If he wins this fight, he will move in federal court to have the charges dismissed.

Reminder: Just because it’s a holiday weekend doesn’t mean news won’t break. Public court dockets are open 24/7, and judges and lawyers can post orders and filings whenever they want. Last Labor Day, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon – the federal judge overseeing the Trump classified-documents case in Florida – issued a major ruling. Happy Special Master Day to those who celebrate.

What is each case against Trump about?

He faces four federal charges in D.C. for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He faces 40 federal charges in Florida over accusations that he kept top-secret government documents at his home and private club, and then thwarted government demands that he return them.

He faces 13 state charges in Georgia, with prosecutors alleging that he tried to undo the election results in that state.

He faces 34 state charges in New York in connection with hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

Case-by-case: What happened last week

1. D.C.: Federal election-obstruction case

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled the trial to start March 4 – a speedy timeline for a federal trial. While such dates often slide back, Chutkan’s decision shows how eager she is to get this case to a jury before the 2024 presidential election.

2. Florida: Federal classified-documents case

The public court docket was fairly quiet in Florida last week. We are waiting for Cannon to rule on the government’s request for a conflict-of-interest hearing for one of the defense lawyers.

3. Georgia: State election-obstruction case

Meadows – Trump’s final White House chief of staff – testified for nearly four hours last week in a federal courtroom, trying to convince a judge that he wasn’t really involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. He was just acting as chief of staff, he testified, facilitating calls and meetings for the president and asking questions on his behalf. Meadows is hoping the judge will move his case to federal court and, ultimately, dismiss the charges.

Trump and almost all of his co-defendants reached a court-approved bond agreement with Georgia state prosecutors when they were first charged so that they could stay out of jail while the legal proceedings play out. This is fairly typical for nonviolent crimes. But one defendant didn’t: Harrison William Prescott Floyd – who is accused of harassing an Atlanta-area election worker in the weeks following the 2020 election – spent several days in jail before reaching a bond agreement. He was released Wednesday.

Good news for those of you who want to watch a Trump trial from your home: The state judge overseeing the Georgia case said Thursday that it can be televised live and streamed online. If his case stays in state court, this may be the only opportunity the public will have to see a Trump trial (unless, of course, you want to wake up early and wait in line in D.C., New York or Fort Pierce, Fla., to snag one of the courtroom seats reserved for the public.) Federal courthouses generally prohibit cameras in the courtroom, and the judge overseeing Trump’s state case in New York has also been reluctant to allow video coverage.

4. New York: State case for allegedly falsifying business records

That stage was dark again last week. Months ago, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan – who is presiding over the case – set the trial date for March 25. But the feasibility of having the New York trial in March came into question when Chutkan in D.C. scheduled her trial to begin March 4. Chutkan and Merchan confirmed that they spoke before Chutkan set her date, suggesting that Merchan may be open to changing his date if the two trial schedules end up conflicting. But a lot can happen between now and March.