Trump criminal trial to start next March, with campaign in full swing

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Donald Trump will face a criminal trial in New York on March 25, 2024, a judge said on Tuesday, meaning the former US President will be on trial as his campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination is in full swing.

Trump, who is charged with falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn star, is expected to be crisscrossing the country next spring along with his rivals as states host presidential nominating contests.

Justice Juan Merchan in Manhattan state court announced the date at a hearing in which Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024 and the first former US president to be criminally charged, appeared remotely from Florida.

Merchan also advised Trump of restrictions on his ability to publicly discuss certain evidence handed over by prosecutors.

At least four screens in Merchan's courtroom showed Trump and his lawyer Todd Blanche seated in front of US flags.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts. In a post on his Truth Social platform after the hearing, Trump said his rights to free speech had been violated.

"They forced upon us a trial date of March 25, right in the middle of the Primary season," Trump wrote in the post. "It's called ELECTION INTERFERENCE."

New York prosecutors say Trump sought to conceal reimbursements to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Cohen has said he paid her in exchange for her silence before the 2016 election, which Trump denies.

The reimbursements concealed violations of New York election law and violations of campaign contribution limits under federal election law, according to prosecutors.

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