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Trump on trial: What to expect in 2024 from the former president's legal cases

Trump, who is leading the Republican presidential primary polls, faces the prospect of up to five trials during the busy campaign year.
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The past year saw Donald Trump on trial twice, indicted four times and hit with a multimillion-dollar civil verdict while also fighting off other legal challenges and running for president; his 2024 court calendar could be even more chaotic.

The former president faces up to five separate trials in the new year and verdicts in two civil cases that could cost him and his business hundreds of millions of dollars. In the four criminal cases, he faces 91 felony counts, including some on charges that carry maximum prison terms of 20 years.

Only one of the impending trial dates appears to be set in stone: that of the civil damages trial in a defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, which is scheduled to start Jan. 16. That's one day after the Iowa caucuses, in which Trump is leading in the polls and has predicted an "epic landslide" victory.

The trial dates for the four pending criminal cases are all in flux thanks to Trump appeals and efforts to delay them until after the election, but it's possible he could stand trial as early as March in either the federal election interference case in Washington, D.C., or the Manhattan district attorney's case in New York alleging falsified business records.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in the criminal cases and has denied wrongdoing in the civil cases. He maintains all the cases are "election interference" and has sought to delay the criminal cases until after the 2024 elections.

Here's a look at the statuses of the biggest pending cases.

E. Jean Carroll defamation trial

The trial will be the second involving Trump and Carroll, a magazine writer who accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s and then of defaming her after she went public with her story in 2019. Trump has denied the account. A jury this year found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation and awarded Carroll $5 million in damages, a verdict Trump is appealing.

The new trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 16, focuses on comments Trump made about Carroll while he was president and then after the $5 million verdict, when he continued to trash her publicly, including calling her a "whack job." The trial will be for damages only because of the jury's findings in the other case, and it's expected to last three to five days.

Carroll is seeking more money than she did in the other trial, arguing that the impact of the defamation was worse because Trump was president when he called her account phony and "a disgrace" and claimed he'd never even met her. An expert who put the cost of repairing the damage to Carroll's reputation at $2.1 million in the earlier trial estimates the cost to be $7 million in the pending case, and Carroll is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive damages, as well.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, has denied several Trump attempts to delay the trial, and last week Trump turned to the federal appeals court in his latest bid to postpone the proceedings. In a court filing on Dec. 21, Trump's attorneys asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the proceedings for 90 days while they weigh how they want to further appeal a ruling that denied Trump's bid to use presidential immunity as a defense.

The appeals court rejected the request on Thursday.

New York civil fraud case

Testimony ended this month in the case in which New York Attorney General Letitia James has contended Trump used fraud to inflate his net worth to snare more favorable loan and insurance rates. Both sides are scheduled to submit filings on Jan. 5. They'll then present closing arguments on Jan. 11, and state Judge Arthur Engoron has said he expects to issue a written decision with his findings in the weeks that follow.

The stakes for Trump are enormous: The AG is seeking a penalty of up to $250 million and the dissolution of his New York business licenses. Engoron has already found that Trump and executives at the Trump Organization engaged in persistent fraud, and he ordered the dissolution of their New York business licenses. At trial, Trump and his witnesses contended that his financial statements weren't inflated and that such valuations are subjective and that the judge should therefore rule in their favor. In a ruling on Dec. 18, Engoron said he wasn't swayed by their arguments.

Trump is appealing Engoron's pretrial ruling and is likely to appeal whatever the trial verdict is.

Appeal of Colorado Supreme Court ruling

In a bombshell ruling this month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is barred from the state's primary ballot on constitutional grounds. The case is one of over a dozen so far that seek to remove Trump from ballots based on language in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment that disqualifies people who "engaged in insurrection" from holding office.

The court paused its decision from taking effect until Jan. 4 to give Trump time to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. If he does so, the ruling said, Trump's name can remain on the March 5 ballot until the high court weighs in.

Trump's spokesperson has said he would appeal before the deadline, and Trump said in a statement on his social media platform last week that "I'm not an insurrectionist." It's unclear when the Supreme Court could act. It could, if it chooses, take up the case and issue a ruling, although unless it acts with unusual speed, any ruling may end up being applicable only in the general election. Any decision would affect the many similar cases pending in other states.

The court could also determine that the case is moot once the primary deadline is reached, meaning it could temporarily avoid ruling one way or another, but the growing number of challenges to Trump's eligibility make it likelier that the justices will have to weigh in at some point.

Jack Smith election interference case

Still officially scheduled for March 4, special counsel Jack Smith's four-count criminal case alleging Trump conspired to defraud the U.S. by illegally subverting the results of the 2020 presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power has been stalled, at least temporarily.

A stay is in place while Trump, who maintains his actions were an appropriate use of presidential power, appeals U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan's ruling shooting down his claim that he's protected by presidential immunity.

Smith has taken action to make sure the appeal is heard as quickly as possible in hope of preserving the March trial date. He asked the Supreme Court to hear the appeal directly, a request it declined without comment Friday.

Smith had also asked the D.C. circuit court to hear Trump's appeal on an expedited basis, a request the appeals court has granted. Trump on Saturday formally requested that the appeals court dismiss the case on immunity grounds.

Oral arguments are scheduled before the appeals court on Jan. 9. It's unclear when the court will rule; after it does, the Supreme Court could act quickly to decide whether to take up the case.

Stormy Daniels case

The first criminal case brought against Trump might be the first to go to trial if the election case winds up being delayed for any significant amount of time.

Trump was charged in March with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump maintains the case is politically motivated.

While prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office had indicated they would be willing to delay the scheduled March 25 trial in deference to the election interference case, the court date was never officially delayed.

Both sides should expect to get some clarity about how the case will proceed at the next hearing before state Judge Juan Merchan on Feb. 15, when more should be known about the status of the federal election interference trial. Trump is expected to attend.

Classified documents case

In June, Trump was hit with a 37-count federal indictment in Florida alleging he illegally held on to and mishandled piles of highly sensitive national security information at his Florida social club. He was subsequently hit with additional charges alleging he'd tried to cover up his wrongdoing. Trump maintains he didn't do anything improper.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump nominee, has scheduled the trial for May 20, but she left open the possibility of pushing it back in a ruling last month. Cannon said she had concerns about "an unusually high volume" of unclassified and classified discovery in the case and about the challenge Trump's team has accessing certain materials that have to be reviewed in secure facilities. Trump's lawyers had argued they need more time to go through all the evidence to better prepare their defense.

Cannon also extended several filing and hearing deadlines, suggesting it is likely she will delay the trial itself.

The next hearing date is March 1, when, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung has said, it's expected that "future scheduling matters, including a potential trial date, will be discussed."

Georgia election interference case

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the Georgia case, has yet to set a trial date but is likely to do so early in the new year.

Trump was one of 19 defendants charged in the indictment. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis alleged the group "knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump," including by pressuring state officials to change the results, accessing voting machines and data in rural Coffee County, and harassing election workers with bogus fraud claims. Trump has called the case part of a "witch hunt" against him and claimed that Willis, who is Black, is "racist."

Prosecutors initially sought a March trial date but pushed their request back to August after two co-defendants sought a faster trial. Those defendants, former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, pleaded guilty to related charges just before the trial was set to begin.

The DA told the judge an August 2024 date made sense because it was "unlikely to be subject to delay or interference from these other trials."

Trump lawyer Steven Sadow said that date would mean his client, who polls indicate is highly likely to be the Republican presidential nominee, would be on trial through the presidential election. "That would be the most effective election interference in the history of the United States," Sadow said.