April 20, 2024

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, long used to juggling challenges that come with running for office while also battling multiple legal issues, is heading into even more uncharted territory: Fighting a general election while sitting in court for his first criminal trial.

The former president’s hush money case is set to kick off on April 15 following a series of delays, and while there’s still likely to be a push for an additional delay, Trump’s aides are preparing for that mid-April start date for a trial that’s expected to take six weeks.

One of the complications the campaign will have to sort through is scheduling. Up until now, Trump has only been seated in court for a few days at a time — and oftentimes, it’s been of his own volition, with the campaign seeing his presence as a way to merge the legal and campaign battles while heightening Trump’s claims of political persecution for Republican primary voters. Now, though, team Trump is readying for their candidate to be required in court multiple days a week, for weeks at a time, which will make organizing consistent campaign events that much harder.

“This is just the progression of where the campaign season is headed into,” one aide said. “Certainly, he’ll have to be in court quite a few days out of the week, and that’s never an ideal thing. We would never wish to be in that position, of course.”

But his team still believes there’s “ample opportunity” to work around these limitations: Based on the judge’s public schedule, they believe Trump, who is likely to camp out at Trump Tower during trial days, will have Wednesdays off, meaning the former president could participate in campaign-related events that day or on Tuesday evenings. The campaign also noted that they’ll have weekends to work with — and left open the possibility of doing mini-trips to neighboring states on court days, too.

The messaging challenges are also different as the campaign confronts a general election audience, rather than primary voters who are naturally inclined towards Trump’s argument that his various court cases are politically motivated. But neither Trump nor his staff seem to show any inclination to redraw their playbook for now.

“I don’t think our messaging needs to change,” the aide told Semafor. “It’ll be just as effective during the primary as it will be in the general, or vice versa.”