Donald Trump’s trial on criminal charges for hush money to the porn star Stormy Daniels will begin on March 25, 2024, in the middle of the Republican presidential primaries and less than eight months before the general election in which the former president hopes to contest.

The trial date was announced at a hearing in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday afternoon, which Trump attended via video link from his home in Florida.

In April, Trump Pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, stemming from his $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, during the 2016 election, to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter.

Tuesday’s hearing was also held to explain an order barring disclosure of material presented by prosecutors that is not already public knowledge.

Trump claims to be the victim of political witch hunts designed to silence him as he runs for the Republican nomination to face Joe Biden next year.

The judge in the New York case, Juan Merchan, has said he is not trying to gag Trump but instead “bend over backwards and make an effort to ensure that he is given every possible opportunity to advance his candidacy.”

Trump was silent for most of Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes. The video feed showed the former president sitting and conferring with his lawyer, Todd Blanche, in front of a backdrop of American flags.

No other former president has been charged with a crime. Spokesmen for Trump did not immediately comment on news of the trial date.

Trump’s court appearance followed News that E Jean Carroll — the author who accused him of rape and won $5 million in a civil suit earlier this month — is seeking additional damages for her comments in a controversial CNN town hall.

Just a day after he was been responsible for sexual assault and defamation, Trump called Carroll a “crazy job” who he said “made up” claims about him. He also claimed the civil trial was “rigged”.

In a new filing in New York on Monday, lawyers for Carroll said such conduct “supports a very substantial punitive damages award in Carroll’s favor.”

Carroll, a magazine columnist, says Trump raped her at one New York department store in the mid-1990s. Her new damages claim comes in a defamation lawsuit filed in federal court in 2019 separate from the New York case, which was brought under a state law that allows victims of historic sex crimes to sue their alleged attackers.

The federal case had been on hold over whether Trump was protected because he made the comments in question while he was president. He does not enjoy that protection when it comes to comments during the CNN event.

According to to the New York TimesThe new filing says Trump’s remarks “demonstrate the depth of his ill will toward Carroll, as it is difficult to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, malice or spite.”

Trump renewed his abuse of Carroll on social media on Monday. When he did, George Conway, a conservative lawyer and Trump critic, told MSNBC: “The complaint that she has amended this time was actually the original complaint from the first lawsuit that she filed in 2019, when … Trump … from the bully pulpit in the Oval Office, denied that anything ever happened … and basically accused her of being a liar.

“And she got $3 million for the second defamation, in 2022, when he was stupid enough to repeat the first defamation. And that time he wasn’t president, so he didn’t have this legal argument. That’s why the first case went on wild ways in the Court of Appeal and now it has come back.”

The 2019 case, Conway said, “already had more damage potential (for Trump) than the case that (Carroll) already won … because he was president at the time.

“That was the very, very first defamation that he did to E Jean Carroll. And now the fact that he has repeated defamation after being found to have sexually assaulted her is really, really outrageous. And it supports damages.

“This sentence could be bigger than the $5 million that she got in the first place. Frankly, I hope it is, because I think at some point he’s got to stop lying about this and stop lying about her. How many times (will we) have to go through this?”

Trump’s legal troubles extend beyond New York, though he also faces a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit there over his business dealings, filed by the state’s attorney general.

In Georgia, charges are expected as a result of Trump’s attempt to reverse his election defeat in 2020 this summer.

In Washington, the US Justice Department continues to investigate Trump’s election subversion, including his incitement to the deadly attack on Congress on January 6.

Jack Smith, a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, is also investigating Trump’s retention of classified documents.

Even so, Trump is enjoying himself huge clues over all other Republican presidential candidates.