The prosecutors overseeing the indictment of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election asked a judge on Thursday to set a trial date in the case for early January, laying out an aggressive schedule for the proceeding.
In a motion filed to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over the case in Federal District Court in Washington, the prosecutors said they were ready not only to go to trial on Jan. 2, but were also poised to give Mr. Trump’s lawyers the bulk of their discovery evidence in the next two weeks or so. The prosecutors further proposed that Mr. Trump’s lawyers submit their first pretrial motions in not much more than a month.
Mr. Trump’s legal team will get to suggest its own timetable for the case next week and will surely object to the government’s proposal. If accepted, the accelerated schedule would make the election interference case the first of the three criminal cases that Mr. Trump now faces to be put in front of a jury.
In their filing to Judge Chutkan, the prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, said the rapid pace was needed given the gravity and historic nature of the charges. Speedy trials, they said, are not just enshrined in law to protect the rights of defendants, but also to safeguard the public’s interest in the swift administration of justice.
“It is difficult to imagine a public interest stronger than the one in this case, in which the defendant — the former president of the United States — is charged with three criminal conspiracies intended to undermine the federal government, obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election and disenfranchise voters,” Molly Gaston, one of the prosecutors, wrote. “Trial in this case is clearly a matter of public importance, which merits in favor of a prompt resolution.”
In most criminal matters, the timetable for bringing a case to trial is an important but mundane process that revolves around questions including the complexity of the evidence, the number of defendants and the schedules of the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers.
But United States v. Donald J. Trump is not most criminal matters. It is not even the only criminal matter bearing that name.
Mr. Trump has now been charged in Washington in the federal election interference case; in Florida in another federal case accusing of him of illegally holding on to classified materials after he left office; and in New York where he has been charged with 34 felonies related to a hush money payment to a porn actress.
Next week, he could face indictment in a fourth case in Fulton County, Ga., in connection with his efforts to interfere with the election results in the state.
His courtroom calendar is quickly filling up.
The New York case, filed by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, is set to go to trial in March. The classified documents case, which is also being handled by Mr. Smith’s office, is slated for May.
If the prosecutors in the election interference case get their way and it goes to trial just after New Year’s Day, Mr. Trump could be obliged to be present in different courthouses in different cities throughout much of the winter and spring. That would be on top of his busy agenda of debates, donor dinners and campaign rallies related to the other matter occupying his time these days — running for country’s highest office.
Some of the former president’s advisers have been blunt in private conversations that he is looking to winning the election as a way his solve his legal problems. And to that end, his lawyers have sought various ways to slow prosecutors in their race to get to trial and have tried to delay the various proceedings where they can.
Last month, for example, they asked the judge in documents case, Aileen M. Cannon, to postpone that trial indefinitely, arguing that the proceeding should not begin until all “substantive motions” in the case had been presented and decided. At a subsequent hearing, the lawyers told Judge Cannon that she should push back the trial until after the 2024 election because, among other reasons, Mr. Trump could never get a fair jury in the maelstrom of news media attention surrounding the race.
If either of the federal trials were pushed back until after the election and Mr. Trump were to win, it would open up the possibility for complications of a sort never seen before. He could try to pardon himself after taking office — a move that has never faced legal scrutiny — or he could have his attorney general simply dismiss the matter altogether.
Speaking to reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday, Mr. Trump asserted that holding any of his pending trials before the general election in November 2024 would amount to interference.
“The trial should be after the election because this is just election interference,” Mr. Trump said. “So if it’s before, you’re just playing into their hands.”
In the few court filings they have written so far, Ms. Gaston and her colleague, Thomas P. Windom, have evinced a slashing style.
In her scheduling motion, Ms. Gaston noted that John. F. Lauro, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, had claimed both on TV and in the courtroom that the government has been investigating the election interference case for “three and a half years” while the defense was “starting with a blank slate.”
“Not only is this claim impossible, as Jan. 6, 2021, was two and a half years ago,” Ms. Gaston wrote, “but it is disingenuous.”
Ms. Gaston also said in the motion that when Mr. Lauro made an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this week — one of five Sunday shows he visited that day — he was “already planning which motions” he intended to file. She seemed to raise the issue anticipating that Mr. Trump’s legal team would object to the government’s proposed timetable as being too short to permit time for determining what kind of motions to submit.
Ms. Gaston said the government expects presenting its evidence at trial to take no longer than four to six weeks. She also noted that prosecutors stood ready to start turning over discovery evidence as soon as a protective order governing its handling is put in place.
Judge Chutkan has scheduled a hearing about the protective order for Friday.
Ms. Gaston’s assertion that prosecutors could produce the bulk of the discovery in the case to Mr. Trump’s lawyers by Aug. 28 was a remarkable display of the government’s desire to move quickly toward a trial.
The discovery evidence, she said, will include grand jury transcripts, recordings of interviews with witnesses, documents connected to search warrants and subpoenas, and unredacted materials from the Secret Service and the House select committee that investigated the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In a separate motion, Mr. Windom informed Judge Chutkan that the discovery disclosure would likely contain “a small amount of classified information.” He asked that the two sides discuss how to handle this material in a hearing governed by what is known as the Classified Information Procedures Act.
Maggie Haberman and Alan Blinder contributed reporting.