Trials and Primaries and Motions, Oh My

Former US President Donald Trump in Orlando, Florida, on February 26, 2022 and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on August 14, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photos by Chandan Khanna and Christian Monterrosa/ AFP/Getty Images)

Welcome back to The Collision! We took a brief hiatus while the internal machinations in the House Republican conference took center stage, Sarah had a little time away from work with her newborn, and Mike went on vacation. And while there doesn’t seem to be any chance Congress is going to get its act together any time soon, we’re at least both back in the saddle.

We want to use this week’s issue to lay out a roadmap for readers—and ourselves—of what the next several months of legal maneuvering and presidential politics will look like. But first, let’s play some catch-up.

The Docket

  • On Wednesday, a judge agreed to drop a federal gun charge against Hunter Biden, per a request last month from prosecutors. The removed charge was a vestige of that ill-fated plea deal federal prosecutors and President Joe Biden’s son had seemingly signed on to before the entire agreement collapsed this summer. The younger Biden faces a new indictment with three gun charges unrelated to the dropped charge.
  • Last week, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty in a Delaware federal court to those three gun charges. According to Reuters, Biden arrived at the Wilmington courthouse in a six-car motorcade and with what appeared to be multiple Secret Service agents. As conditions of his release, pending trial, Biden is required to remain drug-free, seek employment, and clear all travel with a probation officer. Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell indicated he would seek to have the charges dismissed, and his team will have until November 3 to file such a motion.
  • Speaking of requests for dismissal, Donald Trump’s legal team filed just such a motion last week in relation to his charges on election interference in Washington, D.C., with his lawyers arguing Trump is “absolutely immune” from prosecution because his alleged actions took place while he was president and chief executive overseeing the Justice Department. The motion to dismiss came on October 5, the same day Trump’s lawyers also moved to dismiss the New York criminal case surrounding hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
  • Meanwhile, Trump’s bruising political style continues to do him no favors inside the courtroom. Last week, the New York judge presiding over a civil case involving allegations Trump committed business fraud—a case we haven’t even discussed here at The Collision!—issued a limited gag order requiring Trump to delete a post on his social media site that castigated a clerk working for Judge Arthur Engoron, alleging the clerk was politically biased against the former president. The post included a photo of the clerk standing next to Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, not appropriate, and I will not tolerate them,” Engoron said after warning everyone that he will issue sanctions on those who disparage court officials. Trump’s request to pause the ongoing civil trial was denied last week.

A Full Calendar Ahead

With Donald Trump facing four indictments and a primary season, there’s a lot of upcoming dates to keep track of. When will the trials start? What sort of additional important motions can we expect, and by when will they be filed? How will the trials affect the caucuses and primaries, and vice-versa?

With the caveat that some (and maybe several) of these dates are not set in stone, we thought it’d be helpful to provide a chronological timeline for what to expect and when to expect it. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s a start for readers to orient themselves around this very unusual start to a presidential election.

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