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Washington — A federal judge in Washington, D.C. is set to decide on Monday when former President Donald Trump will stand trial in the 2020 election-related case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, a ruling that will set the stage for what could be the first of the former president’s four pending criminal cases to go to trial. 

Ahead of the hearing, prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers have proposed trial dates that straddle both sides of the 2024 election and underscore the differences between the two sides in how quickly they believe the pretrial process can move.

Smith’s team urged District Judge Tanya Chutkan in court filings to begin the proceedings in January 2024, just five months after Trump was indicted on four federal counts that amounted to an alleged scheme to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and stay in power, and nearly three years after the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump, who pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month, proposed an April 2026 trial date in an attempt to push the federal trial well past the next election. The former president is currently the leading candidate for the Republican nomination and claimed his prosecution by Smith is part of an attempt to harm his campaign.

Chutkan indicated previously she would rule on the trial date during a hearing on Monday. 

The former president is not expected to attend the proceeding, which will be the second time Trump’s attorneys and the special counsel’s office have appeared before Chutkan. At a hearing earlier this month, she issued a protective order in the case that limited the use and disclosure of “sensitive” discovery material and imposed a narrower set of restrictions on what information could be publicly disclosed than prosecutors had sought. 

The judge, an Obama appointee, also said that Trump has a First Amendment right to free speech, but acknowledged that this right “is not absolute.” She said that as a defendant, the former president is bound by the conditions of his release, including laws against witness intimidation. Chutkan told Trump’s lead attorney in the case, John Lauro, that any questionable social media posts by his client would only serve to accelerate the trial schedule in order to protect the jury pool. 

Federal judges have broad powers to set trial and hearing schedules in cases over which they preside, and the judge’s warning came as Trump was calling the case — and Chutkan herself — into question, calling her on social media “highly partisan” and “very biased and unfair.”

Just one day after Trump posted on his social media website Truth Social “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” a Texas woman left a threatening and racist voicemail for Chutkan, according to a criminal complaint filed against her. The woman, who was arrested and charged, allegedly said on the recording, “You are in our sights. We want to kill you” and warned, “if Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly b***h,” according to the filing.

Trump is currently the only defendant charged as part of Smith’s federal election-related probe — a stark contrast to the 18 others indicted with him in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ racketeering case in Georgia. His legal team indicated they will embark on a long-shot effort to move the federal case out of Washington, D.C.

The special counsel’s other case against Trump, the classified documents case based in the Southern District of Florida, is currently set to go to trial in May.