Georgia prosecutors propose Aug. 5 trial date for Trump

FILE PHOTO: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis holds a press conference after the indictment of Donald Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Prosecutors in former President Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia on Friday proposed starting the trial on Aug. 5, 2024, just months before the November U.S. presidential election.

If that date is accepted by Judge Scott McAfee, Trump could potentially be on trial for allegedly trying to overturn the last presidential election when Americans vote in the next one.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is overseeing the prosecution, said earlier this week that the trial will likely last "many months" and may not conclude until the winter of 2025, well after the Nov. 5, 2024 election.

Trump said he opposed that date in a filing posted shortly after prosecutors made their request. His lawyers have repeatedly pushed to delay all four criminal cases against him.

"Fani Willis has again proven that her case is purely political, designed to interfere with President Trump's re-election by demanding a trial date in the most vital time in President Trump's winning campaign," campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

Trump is currently leading his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination by a wide margin. The party will formally pick its candidate at a convention in July following several months of nominating contests.

He has said he would "root out" his political opponents if re-elected. But he would have little power as president to interfere with the Georgia case, or another state case in New York in which he is charged with trying to cover up hush-money payments to a porn star.

Trump and 14 co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other charges for allegedly working to overturn his narrow defeat in Georgia following the 2020 election.

"This proposed trial date balances potential delays from Defendant Trump's other criminal trials in sister sovereigns and the other defendants' constitutional speedy trial rights," Willis said.

The district attorney said earlier this week that she would not consider the campaign schedule in her handling of the case.

Prosecutors also requested a June 2024 deadline for defendants in the case to reach plea deals. Four people initially charged have so far pleaded guilty.

Willis said in Friday's filing that prosecutors would be able to try Trump and all remaining defendants in the case together in one trial.

The Georgia trial will have to compete with three other criminal cases against Trump, which are all scheduled to go to trial next year. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and accused prosecutors of attempting to interfere with his campaign.

The Georgia proposal assumes that by August 2024 Trump will have already wrapped up his two federal criminal trials.

The first is scheduled for March in Washington, where he will face charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The second is scheduled for May in Florida where he will face charges that accuse him of mishandling classified documents. The judge in that case has indicated she may push that trial back.

The New York hush-money trial is scheduled for March, though that date could change as well.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward and Jasper Ward; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O'Brien)