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Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his legal team in a Manhattan court on April 4.Seth Wenig/The Associated Press

Donald Trump will face a criminal trial on March 25, 2024, over charges he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, a judge said on Tuesday.

Justice Juan Merchan in Manhattan state court announced the date during a hearing in which the former U.S. president appeared remotely from Florida.

That means Trump will be going on trial during the heart of the 2024 presidential nominating primaries, when he and his rivals to be the Republican candidate will be criss-crossing the country to drum up support among the party faithful.

Trump is currently the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to announce on Wednesday that he is seeking the nomination, two sources told Reuters.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts of falsifying business records.

The primary purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was for Merchan to officially advise Trump of an order restricting him from disclosing certain evidence to third parties, including news outlets and on social media. At the start of the hearing, Merchan asked Trump if he had a copy of the order.

“Yes I do,” said Trump, wearing a striped red tie and blue suit and sitting next to his lawyer Todd Blanche in front of U.S. flags. The two were shown on at least four screens in Merchan’s courtroom.

The restrictions on Trump concern grand jury minutes, witness statements, and other materials that prosecutors are required to turn over to the defence to prepare for trial.

Prosecutors have said the order was needed because of Trump’s history of attacks on social media, and the risk that witnesses might be harassed.

Trump would remain free to speak about most evidence in the case which comes from the defence, the judge said at a hearing earlier this month.