WASHINGTON — Prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s office Thursday proposed a Jan. 2 trial for Donald Trump’s trial on charges that he engaged in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In papers filed in federal court in Washington, the prosecutors said that it’s in the public interest to have a trial as soon as practicable and that their proposed date “serves the public’s interest and the interests of justice, while also protecting the defendant’s rights and ability to prepare for trial.”
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,” the filing said.
Prosecutors estimated that the “case in chief will take no longer than four to six weeks.”
If the judge signs off on that date, it could affect Trump’s ability to campaign ahead of the Iowa caucuses, which are scheduled for Jan. 15, and it could keep him away from the trail for the entire early-state window: New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Trump responded on Truth Social that the timing “just ahead of the important Iowa Caucuses” would amount to “election interference.”
Trump’s attorneys have been directed to propose their own trial date and estimate for the length of the trial by next Thursday. In an interview last week with NBC’s “TODAY” show, Trump lawyer John Lauro declined to say explicitly whether the case should go to trial before the 2024 election but suggested that was the case.
He said Smith’s office at that point was seeking a trial within 70 days, while it has had “3½ years” to investigate the case.
“Why don’t we make it equal?” Lauro said.
Prosecutors said in their filing, “Not only is this claim impossible, as January 6, 2021, was two and a half years ago, but it is disingenuous,” adding that “the defendant and his counsel have long been aware of details of the Government’s investigation leading to his indictment, having had first contact with Government counsel in June 2022.”
Trump, the filing continued, “has a greater and more detailed understanding of the evidence supporting the charges against him at the outset of this criminal case than most defendants, and is ably advised by multiple attorneys, including some who have represented him in this matter for the last year.”
Lauro said in court last week he would need more information from the government about the scope of its evidence before he could know how much time it would take to prepare for the defense.
In their filing Thursday, prosecutors said they expect “substantially” all of the evidence will have been turned over to Trump’s team before Aug. 28, when U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has said she plans to set a trial date after she reviews the prosecution and defense proposals.
In addition to the political calendar, a January trial date would affect Trump’s court calendar. Writer E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 15.
Trump also has another civil trial and two criminal trials scheduled from January to May.
Daniel Barnes reported from Washington and Dareh Gregorian from New York.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com