Watch CBS News

Special counsel proposes Jan. 2 trial date for Trump in 2020 election case

Memo details 2020 fake electors plot
Trump campaign memo details plot to use fake electors in 2020 election 02:21

Washington — Prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith's office proposed that the trial in the case against former President Donald Trump related to the 2020 presidential election should begin on Jan. 2, 2024, and predicted they will need between four and six weeks to make their case.

The Justice Department lawyers put forth the Jan. 2 trial date in a new filing in federal district court in Washington on Thursday. They said their proposed timeline would give Trump and his lawyers time to review the material collected during Smith's investigation and prepare a defense, while allowing enough time for the parties to litigate pre-trial issues.

"Most importantly, a January 2 trial date would vindicate the public's strong interest in a speedy trial — an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens' legitimate votes," they wrote in the filing.

As part of the eight-page filing, Smith's team suggested jury selection should begin on Dec. 11, weeks before the trial date, to "avoid uncertainty and hardships for jurors during the winter holidays."

Trump faces four federal charges stemming from alleged efforts to stop the transfer of presidential power after the 2020 election: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. He pleaded not guilty to all four charges and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

The trial date proposed by federal prosecutors is two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the first event in the 2024 presidential election cycle. Trump is currently the frontrunner among the field of Republicans vying for the party's presidential nomination.

The former president and his lawyers have until Aug. 17 to submit their own proposed date for a trial, but the Trump campaign responded to the proposed date on Thursday. 

"Deranged Jack Smith and the Biden Department of Justice are blatantly playing political games, proving even further that they are overtly committing election interference because they know that President Trump is the leading candidate in the race to win the White House," a Trump campaign spokesperson said. 

If U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, agrees to the schedule suggested by Smith's team, the trial would begin just before the three-year mark of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump's conduct in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack is a focus of the indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week. Federal prosecutors allege the former president attempted to enlist then-Vice President Mike Pence to "fraudulently alter" the results of the 2020 election when Congress convened for a joint session on Jan. 6 to certify state Electoral College votes. The indictment alleged that Trump and an unnamed co-conspirator then "attempted to exploit the violence and chaos" that unfolded at the Capitol when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building. 

Lawyers for the Justice Department and Trump are set to appear before Chutkan on Friday for a hearing over a proposed protective order, which will govern the disclosure of discovery in the case. 

Prosecutors said in their latest filing that they are prepared to hand over voluminous amounts of evidence to the defense once the court issues a protective order.

The Justice Department indicated there is a "minimal" amount of classified information that may be subject to discovery in the case and has requested a hearing under a federal law that governs how classified material is used in criminal trials.

Though the case against Trump is in the early stages, his lawyers have spoken publicly about the next steps they intend to pursue. In an interview with "Face the Nation" on Sunday, John Lauro, one of Trump's attorneys, said he "100 percent" will seek to dismiss the case and criticized the indictment for having "many holes."

Lauro revealed the former president's legal team intends to file "a number of motions" on First Amendment grounds and argued Trump is immune from prosecution, since the conduct detailed in the indictment occurred while he was still president and he was acting in an official capacity.

Trump's legal team also plans to request to move the trial out of Washington, D.C., Lauro said, and suggested West Virginia as an alternate venue.

The former president is under significant legal scrutiny as he mounts a third bid for the White House, and two trials in cases where Trump has been indicted by grand juries have already been set for 2024. He is set to stand trial on state criminal charges in New York in March, and on federal charges in Florida in May over his handling of classified documents — during the height of primary season, and as it's coming to an end.

Trump told supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday that he is expecting to be charged a fourth time next week, this time as part of an investigation by the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney into attempts to reverse the outcome of the election in the state.

The former president, though, has been unbowed by the mounting legal issues and has said he will not drop out of the race, even if he is convicted.

"There's nothing in the Constitution to say that it could and not at all," Trump said in a radio interview last month when asked whether he would end his campaign if convicted and sentenced. "And even the radical left crazies are saying no, that wouldn't stop [him]. And it wouldn't stop me there."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.