In 2016, while other presidential candidates will be preparing for the April primaries, former President Donald Trump will be on trial in New York City for allegedly falsifying business records.
The date of March 25 was established on Tuesday during a hearing in which Trump appeared via video from his residence in Florida. The Washington Post reports that when the date was determined, Trump shook his head but made no comment to the court.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, although a rush for relevancy has led many states to move their presidential primaries as early as feasible in 2024, April features heavyweight states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump will be focused on his trial while other Republican presidential candidates are traveling back and forth across the country for elections held on three consecutive Tuesdays in March — March 5, March 12, and March 19.
Trump is facing a 34-count indictment related to payments made during the 2016 election, which the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, headed by District Attorney Alvin Bragg, alleges were recorded on the books of the Trump Organization in a manner that concealed them during the campaign.
The former president expressed displeasure.
“Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season,” Trump posted on his Truth Social platform.
“Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted. It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before!!!” Trump wrote.
Reuters reports that during Trump’s Tuesday video appearance for the hearing, Manhattan-based New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan briefed him on an order limiting the trial-related materials he can share publicly.
Lawyer Todd Blanche said Trump is “very much concerned that his First Amendment rights are being violated” by the order and asked for clarification, using the phrase “a gag order,” according to the New York Post.
“It is certainly not a gag order,” Merchan said.
“It is certainly not my intention in any way to impede his right to campaign for president of the United States. He’s free to do just about anything that doesn’t violate the terms of this protective order,” Merchan said.
Merchan said Trump “is certainly free to deny the charges. He is free to defend himself against the charges,” Reuters reported.
Merchan stated that Trump could be held in contempt of court if he violates the terms of the order, which restrict his ability to examine evidence shared with his defense.
The order said that “any person who receives the Covered Materials shall not copy, disseminate, or disclose the Covered Materials, in any form or by any means, to any third party … including, but not limited to, by disseminating or posting the Covered Materials to any news or social media platforms, including, but not limited, to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, or YouTube, without prior approval from the Court.”
The order said “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.”
Trump can review “Limited Dissemination Materials” provided by the prosecution only when his attorneys are present and “shall not be permitted to copy, photograph, transcribe, or otherwise independently possess the Limited Dissemination Materials,” according to the order.
Trump is banned from seeing some “forensic images of witness cell phones,” but can see “approved portions” of the images if the judge agrees, the order said.