The date for former President Trump’s criminal trial surrounding hush money payments during the 2016 Presidential campaign season has been set for March 24, 2024.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan set the trial date on Tuesday, during a hearing in which he read Trump an order detailing what he can and cannot say publicly about the case.
Trump, who appeared virtually in the Manhattan courtroom, could be seen speaking and gesturing to his attorney Todd Blanche seated next to him on the screen but his voice was not audible.
The trial is set for three weeks after Super Tuesday, when 15 states will vote in the Republican presidential primary on March 5. Trump announced he was running for reelection in 2024 this past November.
On April 4, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season.
Merchan’s order, which was requested by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, dictates that “any materials and information provided by the People to the Defense in accordance with their discovery obligations…shall be used solely for the purposes of preparing a defense in this matter.”
The order also singles out Trump, saying he may review “Limited Dissemination Materials” from the prosecution only in the presences of his lawyer. Further, he “shall not be permitted to copy, photograph, transcribe, or otherwise independently possess the Limited Dissemination Materials.”
During Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s attorney said that his client remains concerned that the order infringes on his First Amendment rights. However, Blanche did add, “He understands that he has to comply with the order, and if he doesn’t do so, he’s violating your order.”
Merchan’s order only applies to evidence obtained by the prosecution and turned over to Trump to prepare for trial, and during Tuesday’s hearing the judge reiterated that this was not a gag order, which would have barred Trump entirely from speaking about the case.
“It is certainly not my intention in any way to impede Mr. Trump’s ability to campaign for President of the United States,” Merchan said, noting that Trump can publicly defend himself against allegations related to the case.
“He is free to campaign,” Merchan stated. “He is free to do just about anything that does not violate the specific terms of the protective order.”
PHOTO: New York State Supreme Court