Donald Trump breezed through the first two contests on the 2024 primary calendar. The question, though, is whether he can sustain his momentum through a primary season — and then general election — interrupted by his many upcoming court dates.
The former president is fighting a multifront legal war that has consumed millions of his campaign funds. He’s been ordered to pay $83 million in damages in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against him, a ruling that his lawyers have vowed to appeal. That would mark a significant blow to his cash reserves, which Bloomberg estimates at around $600 million, and he wouldn’t be able to use campaign funds to cover it.
But there’s still much more to come: There’s the Justice Department case concerning his attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election on January 6, 2021, in which the trial, originally scheduled to begin March 4, has now been canceled — but may be rescheduled depending on whether the DC Circuit Court rules that Trump has legal immunity for acts committed while he was president.
There’s the ongoing New York state court case in which he’s already been found liable for fraud for inflating the value of his businesses. And Colorado and Maine officials have ordered Trump removed from the ballot in 2024, subject to the approval of the US Supreme Court.
There’s also the federal case over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, the Georgia case about his interference in the 2020 election, and the New York case over hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign.
With some court dates still up in the air, it’s unlikely that most of these cases will be decided before the November election. Even if some are decided in the next few months, Trump’s campaign has been working with state and national Republican Party officials to ensure that any legal troubles closer to the GOP convention can’t derail his nomination. But any adverse decisions might hurt Trump in the general election; a series of four separate polls conducted in August found that most Americans supported the charges against Trump.
“Is it ratcheting a noose around his campaign or not?” said Dave Wilson, a GOP strategist based in South Carolina. “Do you really want somebody who’s going to be potentially on trial or convicted going up against an already weakened Joe Biden?”
In the meantime, his court appearances might help him further cement his dominance in the GOP primary, where he is coasting with a lead of more than 57 percentage points on average. Most Republican voters say he should remain the party’s nominee even if he’s convicted of a crime.
“It allows him to go to the states and say, ‘If they’re coming after me, they’re going to come after you,’” Wilson said. “Every appearance that Donald Trump makes in court is a visual reminder to his voters that he’s ‘fighting for them.’”
Here are the big dates on Trump’s political and legal calendar:
Early to mid-February
By mid-February, the New York Supreme Court is aiming to issue a written decision in the civil fraud case concerning Trump’s inflation of the value of his businesses. Though the court has already found him liable for fraud and ordered the dissolution of his New York business licenses, what’s still left to be decided is what kind of financial penalties Trump may face; New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $370 million. Trump will likely appeal whatever final decision is reached.
There are two important events this day: First, the Nevada Republican Party caucuses for the presidential nominee, in which Trump is the only major candidate competing.
Second, oral arguments are scheduled in the US Supreme Court case Trump v. Anderson over Trump’s removal from the ballot in Colorado. The Colorado electors who sought his removal have argued that his incitement of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol constituted a violation of his presidential oath to uphold the US Constitution under the 14th Amendment, disqualifying him from running for office. The case will likely determine the outcome of the ballot challenges Trump is facing in dozens of other states.
Trump is expected to attend a hearing in the hush money case concerning Stormy Daniels — in which Trump is accused of 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents — that will determine whether the case will be dismissed and when the trial date will be discussed. It may be delayed to allow the DOJ’s 2020 election case to go first.
There will also be a hearing in the Georgia case over Trump’s interference in the 2020 election. The court will consider a motion that seeks to dismiss the indictment against him and disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her office from prosecuting the case.
South Carolina Republican primary
Michigan Republican primary
Super Tuesday primaries, including the Colorado and Maine primaries. Trump’s appearance on the ballot in those states will depend on what the Supreme Court rules.
The trial in the hush money case is currently slated to begin on March 25, but it could be subject to change depending on how the DOJ’s 2020 election case proceeds.
The federal trial in the case concerning Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents that he kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after he left the White House is scheduled to begin on this date. He is charged with 32 counts of violating the Espionage Act, six counts of obstruction, and two counts of making false statements.
Republican National Convention
Willis has proposed the trial in the Georgia 2020 election case begins on this date. Willis has argued that the Trump campaign was at the center of a criminal enterprise and that many of the 19 individuals named in the case helped assist in the organization’s attempt to overturn the Georgia 2020 election results. Establishing that Trump and his allies were part of an enterprise — a person, group, or business engaged in legal or illegal behavior — is key to Willis’s assertion that the defendants violated Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Correction, January 18, 9:40 am: This story, originally published January 17, has been updated to reflect that the New York Supreme Court, not the state Court of Appeals, will decide the damages in the Trump civil fraud case.
Update, February 2, 4:40 pm: This story, originally published January 17, has been updated multiple times, mostly recently to include information on the timeline for a ruling in the New York civil fraud case against Trump and to reflect that the March 4 trial in the DOJ’s 2020 election case was canceled, at least temporarily.