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How One Hour Encapsulated the Chaos of Trump’s Coming Trial

At 11 a.m. Monday, a New York appeals court made Donald J. Trump’s day, rescuing him from financial devastation in a civil fraud case.

By noon, the New York judge overseeing his criminal case had nearly ruined it, setting Mr. Trump’s trial for next month and all but ensuring he will hold the dubious distinction of becoming the first former American president to be criminally prosecuted.

The contrasting outcomes of Mr. Trump’s twin New York legal crises — a triumph in the civil case and a setback in the criminal one — set the former president on a winding path as he seeks to navigate around an array of legal troubles to recapture the White House.

Unfolding in rapid succession in his hometown courts, the day’s events captured the disorienting reality of having a candidate who is also a defendant. And they showed that nothing about the six months until Election Day will be easy, linear or normal — for Mr. Trump or the nation.

Rather than mount a traditional cross-country campaign in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention in July, Mr. Trump, the presumptive nominee, is preparing to work around the criminal trial that will begin April 15 and last for at least six weeks.

His schedule will be built around the four days each week that the trial is expected to take place in court, with Wednesdays expected to be an off day. One person familiar with his preliminary plans described weekend events held in strategically important states near New York, like Pennsylvania, or in hospitable areas outside Manhattan.

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