A Major Trump Hearing – The New York Times

Donald Trump’s four criminal trials can seem dizzying, including both federal and state cases, across Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington. But it’s worth remembering that the cases have different timetables. And any case that might produce a verdict before Election Day is probably more important than the others.

The cases that don’t reach a verdict before November may become moot if Trump wins the 2024 presidential election. As president, he could try to end the two federal cases, while many legal scholars believe that the Constitution prevents state prosecutors from pursuing charges against a sitting president.

This reality explains why Trump’s defense strategy revolves around delaying the cases. Any case he can push into 2025 may be irrelevant, at least for another four years.

Today in Washington, an appeals court will hear an argument that will shape the timing of the case that seems to be furthest along: the federal trial involving Trump’s efforts to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election. Trump claims he is immune from prosecution because the charges stem from actions that he took while he was president. Adding to the drama, he has said that he will attend today’s argument in person.

“Today is a critical day for determining how Trump’s trials are likely to play out this year,” Alan Feuer, who has been covering the cases for The Times, told us.

Whether Trump is convicted of any crimes before Election Day could be a major factor in the 2024 race. A recent poll found that nearly a quarter of Trump’s supporters believe that he should not be the Republican nominee for president if he is found guilty of a crime. A conviction could also affect the general election. “In a close race, it might be decisive even if only a sliver of voters refuse to vote for a felon,” Nate Cohn, The Times’s chief political analyst, has written.

In the rest of today’s newsletter, we walk you through the timing of all four criminal cases.

The case at issue in today’s hearing — the federal trial involving Trump’s actions after the 2020 election — had been set to begin in Washington on March 4, the day before Super Tuesday. That starting date is on hold while judges hear arguments on whether Trump is immune.

If Trump wins at the appeals court, the federal case against him may unravel. If he loses, he is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court. For Trump, even a drawn-out process that ends in defeat could effectively be a victory.

“The immunity battle, even if Trump loses on the substance of his arguments, could still determine whether the trial will be held before the election in November,” Alan and Maggie Haberman wrote last week in the Trump on Trial newsletter.

(Police officers were called to the homes of the judge overseeing Trump’s election interference case and the special counsel, Jack Smith, after separate false reports of shootings.)

The other trial that now seems as if it could finish before the election is the case that accuses Trump of falsifying business records to cover up his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels. The trial is set to begin on March 25 and probably would last about a month. The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has indicated that he may accept a later starting date if Trump’s federal trial involving the 2020 election moves ahead.

The judge overseeing the Manhattan trial plans to finalize the starting date on Feb. 15. “If it seems that the Jan. 6 trial will be delayed for months, he may well stick with the current schedule,” our colleague Jonah Bromwich, who is covering the case, said. “I think there’s about a 50 percent chance that the Manhattan trial goes forward as scheduled.”

In addition to the federal charges related to Trump’s efforts to stay in power, he also faces state charges in Georgia. Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., chose to bring a sprawling racketeering case involving 19 defendants. The complexity is one reason the trial seems unlikely to finish this year.

Trump faces a federal trial in Florida in which prosecutors accuse him of taking sensitive government documents from the White House and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them. It is scheduled to begin on May 20. But that date may change, and the case appears unlikely to end before November.

Trump is also involved in three noncriminal cases:

  • Last fall, a New York judge ruled that Trump had committed fraud by inflating his net worth. The judge will hear arguments about potential financial penalties this week.

  • Last May, a jury in New York concluded that Trump had sexually abused E. Jean Carroll, a writer, in the 1990s, and later defamed her. In September, a judge ruled that Trump had defamed Carroll in another instance, too; a civil trial to determine damages will begin next week.

  • Colorado and Maine have banned Trump’s name from the primary ballot this year, saying that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election amounted to insurrection. Trump has appealed the decisions, and the Supreme Court announced last week that it would hear the Colorado case on Feb. 8. A decision will likely apply to other states that try to ban him.

  • Protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza interrupted President Biden’s speech at a church in Charleston, S.C. The audience responded with chants of “four more years,” and Biden praised the protesters’ “passion.”

  • Biden criticized Trump for saying “we have to get over” school shootings. “We have to stop it,” Biden said at the church, where a white supremacist gunman killed nine people in 2015.

  • Biden rebuked Nikki Haley, without naming her, for her remarks about the roots of the Civil War, saying, “Let me be clear, for those who don’t seem to know: Slavery was the cause.”

  • Mitch Landrieu, Biden’s infrastructure czar, is stepping down to help lead the president’s re-election campaign.

  • With Trump busy in court, his campaign has called on allies like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ben Carson to fill the gaps in Iowa.

  • An experimental community on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, offers tiny homes and shared services to homeless people.

  • Pope Francis said surrogate motherhood should be banned for its “commercialization” of pregnancy, calling it “despicable.”

  • School absenteeism has nearly doubled since the pandemic, and officials are doing little to get students back, an investigation by ProPublica and The New Yorker found.

  • Powerful storms will bring heavy rain to the New York area, with the potential for flooding. Blizzard conditions will persist in the High Plains through the Upper Midwest.

Israel’s actions in Gaza increasingly suggest a desire to expel Palestinians from the territory, Peter Beinart argues.

Here are columns by Paul Krugman on the Federal Reserve and Michelle Goldberg on Biden’s campaign speeches.

A comeback: An avant-garde jazz singer lost her voice after a stroke in 2009. She is still performing.

Tiny helper: For months, someone — or something — had been tidying up a retiree’s workbench after him. So, he set up a night-vision camera. “Lo and behold,” he said, “I got a video of the mouse.”

A Y2K staple: Is it ever OK to wear a matching sweatsuit? As with most things, The Times’s fashion critic says, how you style it is what matters.

Lives Lived: Tony Fortuna turned running a dining room into a fine art at each of his Manhattan restaurants, most notably TBar, over his 40-year career. He died at 76.

College football: The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Washington Huskies, 34-13, to become the national champions after one of the most fraught seasons in recent memory.

N.F.L.: The Washington Commanders fired coach Ron Rivera. Former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers will help hire the franchise’s new coach.

N.B.A.: The Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is out for the year with a torn labrum, just nine games after his season debut.

Travel in 2024: Every year, the Travel desk offers up a list of 52 places to visit. This year’s list features an elephant rehabilitation program in Kenya, sea-sculpted monoliths in Quebec and a lesser-known home of masterpieces in Tuscany. Here are some more picks:

Mustang, Nepal: This ancient Himalayan kingdom is a bastion of traditional Tibetan culture, preserved for centuries by its remoteness. Visitors can take wilderness treks through mountain ranges, and visit the well-preserved medieval fortress of Lo Manthang.Craters of the Moon, Idaho: Thousands of years ago, outpourings of lava created a surreal landscape here, with gaping craters and underground tubes. Calvin Coolidge designated it a national monument in 1924, and for the centennial this year the park will unveil new and rehabilitated trails.Manchester, England: Music is part of the soul of this city, from which Oasis and Joy Division hail. It will soon be home to Britain’s largest arena, Co-op Live, which is set to open in April. (Liam Gallagher and Eric Clapton are booked to inaugurate the space.)

Find more inspiration here.

  • Prince’s breakout film “Purple Rain” is being adapted into a musical.

  • “He’s mad at me for making fun of his topknot”: On his first show of the year, Jimmy Kimmel addressed Aaron Rodgers’s comments connecting the host with Jeffrey Epstein.

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