Donald Trump appeared in court over video link Tuesday for a hearing in Alvin Bragg's "hush money" case.
Judge Juan Merchan set a trial date for March 25, likely grounding Trump's presidential campaign right in the middle of primary season early next year.
Trump has pled not guilty to Bragg's nakedly political 34-felony indictment for "falsifying business records."
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, it's likely that it will hobble Trump in his effort to seek the presidency again, as Trump made clear in a social media post decrying "ELECTION INTERFERENCE."
"Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season.”
At the hearing, the judge warned Trump to comply with the restrictions of a protective order, which restricts him from discussing the evidence publicly or seeing it without his lawyers present.
Still, the judge insisted he didn't want to interfere with Trump's political activities or his First Amendment rights.
"It is certainly not my intention in any way to impede his right to campaign for president of the United States. He’s free to do just about anything that doesn’t violate the terms of this protective order.”
Bragg has until next week to explain why his case should stay in state court after Trump's lawyers sought to move it, citing in part issues with Bragg's jurisdiction and his utterly bizarre prosecution theory, which gestures at federal election law even though Bragg is a state prosecutor.
"Never before has a local elected prosecutor criminally prosecuted a defendant either for conduct that occurred entirely while the defendant was the sitting President of the United States or for conduct that related to federal campaign contribution laws," a motion from Trump's lawyers says.
The next hearing isn't set until January of next year, right before the Iowa caucuses.
Despite the unprecedented nature of a pending criminal case against a presidential candidate, Trump has yet to receive clarity on the charges he is facing, and Bragg says he isn't "entitled" to know.
Could this be more of a transparent political hit job?