Jan 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's courtroom and campaign calendar collision is here

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event on December 19, 2023 in Waterloo, Iowa

Former President Trump looks on during a campaign event on Dec. 19 in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Trump's presidential campaign is on track to collide with his packed courtroom calendar right as the Republican primary is heating up.

Why it matters: Trump is confronting the crushing reality of fighting four criminal indictments and numerous other legal battles, while also trying to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

Zoom in: Don't let the bravado and punchy fundraising appeals fool you: The demands of the GOP primary and Trump's court dates have amounted to a "scheduling nightmare," Trump senior adviser Susie Wiles told reporters last month.

  • "There's no way to sugarcoat that," Wiles acknowledged.
  • That was before Maine and Colorado took the stunning step of removed Trump from the ballot — triggering a new set of appeals and further jamming up the former president's calendar.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear oral arguments on Feb. 8 — the same day as Nevada's Republican caucuses — to review the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to remove Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause.

  • Trump is also waiting for an appeal to play out on the same matter in Maine, after the state's secretary of state ruled that the former president is disqualified from the ballot over his actions relating to Jan. 6.

The big picture: Trump's first criminal trial isn't expected to start until early March, but he's spending the final week before the Iowa caucuses splitting his time between fighting legal challenges and criss-crossing the state to shore up support.

Just look at the next 10 days alone:

Between the lines: Trump has made the most of his courtroom experiences, juicing his fundraising on hearing days and capitalizing on TV cameras outside the courthouse to attack prosecutors.

  • But the frustration has at times been hard to ignore.
  • "I'd rather be right now in Iowa. I'd rather be in New Hampshire or South Carolina or Ohio or a lot of other places," Trump said in October after he appeared at the Manhattan courthouse for his civil fraud trial.

What to watch: Trump's courtroom collision will become more defined and dramatic as his criminal proceedings ramp up.

  • Trump's legal team has repeatedly tried to delay his four criminal trials until after the election, with mixed success so far.
  • The trial in his federal election interference case is currently set to start on March 4, one day before Super Tuesday, when 15 states and American Samoa will hold primaries or caucuses.

The bottom line: One of the many ways in which this primary season is so unique is that physical campaigning ultimately may not matter: Trump leads by about 50 points in national polls and 30 points in Iowa.

Go deeper: Trump's 2024 collision: Court dates disrupt his campaign calendar

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