The criminal case against former President Donald Trump will begin on March 25, 2024, right in the middle of the Republican primary elections.
Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records with the intent to conceal illegal conduct in relation to a series of payments he made to reimburse his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for paying Stormy Daniels to not go public with claims that she had an affair with Trump.
Trump was informed of the trial start date during a hearing, which he attended virtually. Judge Juan Merchan also issued a protective order that said any evidence shared with Trump's defense team may not be shared with "any news or social media platforms, including, but not limited, to Truth Social, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, or YouTube, without prior approval from the Court."
In addition, Trump was told that he could only view the evidence against him with his lawyers and may not "copy, photograph, transcribe, or otherwise independently possess" that material.
Judge Merchan noted that Trump is free to speak about the case, so as long as he does not mention specific evidence that is turned over by prosecutors during the discovery process.
"It is certainly not my intention in any way to impede Mr. Trump's ability to campaign for president of the United States," Merchan said.
"He is free to defend himself against these charges. He is free to campaign," Merchan added. "He is free to do just about anything that does not violate the specific terms of the protective order."