Trump’s strategy to postpone criminal trials could backfire mid-campaign

The anticipation generated by the start of Donald Trump’s trial in the Stormy Daniels case this Monday is not only due to it being historic – it is the first time in the United States that a former president sits on the bench for a criminal case – but also Because it is the only one of the four criminal cases that has survived Trump’s defense strategy: flooding the courts to postpone as much as possible the start of procedures until after the election.

In addition to the case involving embezzlement in payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels in Manhattan, Trump is dealing with three other criminal charges: a Georgia state case for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results in that state, and a federal case for assault. There was an attempt at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to overturn the election results — which are being decided in Washington — and a second federal case involving the classified Mar-a-Lago papers, which is being handled by a Florida court. Although the punishment for fraud in New York is up to four years in prison, a conviction for embezzling payments to a porn actress would not be the most serious Rosary could face.

“The most serious matter is the Mar-a-Lago Papers. Because he is accused of seriously endangering the national security of this country. This is one of the most serious charges one can face,” explains David Super, professor of administrative and constitutional law at Georgetown University. However, Justin Levitt, a former North American Justice Department prosecutor and current professor of law at the University of California, is not so clear: “It’s like choosing which of three extremely dangerous poisons is the deadliest. The deliberate mismanagement of classified documents is extremely serious. The other two cases (Georgia and the attack on the Capitol) are two deliberate attempts to overthrow the will of the citizens. Something that in any other context you would call a coup.”

pro trump judge

Both the Georgia case and the attack on the Capitol have no set date, while the judge in the Mar-a-Lago case could set a trial start day in late May. Everything will depend on how much time it takes for Judge Eileen Cannon to review the motions filed by Trump’s legal team. “This judge has been the most prone to issuing strange rulings that benefit the former President. In fact, she was appointed by Trump himself, plus she is relatively new to the court. That’s why this is the trial that has the least chance of going forward,” Levitt explains.

The professor agrees with Levitt about Super Canon’s behavior: “I think the judge is going to help them.” However he also acknowledges that Florida is a more complex case than New York, with Judge Juan M. Merchan having already rejected multiple requests to delay the trial, which were submitted on the same day as it was scheduled to start.

In the Florida case, the former president faces 42 charges, ranging from intentionally withholding national defense information to moving classified papers from the White House to his residence in Mar-a-Lago (Florida). On the other hand, in New York he faces only 34 charges and the most serious charge would be that of falsifying documents, for which he could face up to four years in jail. “It’s the simplest of the four, so it’s more difficult to find justification for delaying it,” Super explains.

Regarding the four years in prison Trump could receive, former prosecutor Levitt tempered expectations: “I think in the context of these charges, it’s very unlikely that anyone will be sentenced to prison. “It may be possible, but I think it’s even more likely because of who Donald Trump is.”

Pressure to judge a former president

Precisely the fact of criminal prosecution against a former President and prospective election candidate makes the whole process more muddled. Trump’s defense is aware that judges do not want it to appear that a trial was not conducted with all the guarantees in the criminal process, making them more willing to grant most appeals. Levitt explains, “Judges have gone to great lengths to allow them to file legal pleadings, even if they are frivolous, to ensure that they are denied an effective defense.” Any measure that allows a delay in the start, no matter how small the time interval, already adds to the total and could make a big difference in whether Trump will sit in the courtroom before or after the election. No.

The tycoon tries to portray himself as a victim of “political oppression”, adding to the pressure on judges. Although justice is governed by the principle that all citizens are equal before the law, another sign that Trump is not just a citizen is how cheap it is for him to attack judges and their families.

In any other context, “most of the accused would have been thrown in jail for contempt of court,” says the former US government prosecutor. But at the hearing in the Stormy Daniels case, Judge Merchan only issued a gag order to stop Trump’s attacks against witnesses and his family. In the weeks before the process began, Trump had targeted Merchan’s daughter and dedicated himself to attacking her.

Georgia is the most dangerous case for Trump

Trump is trying to postpone the elections until after the election because he believes he can handle matters more easily if he is re-elected. At least two federal: one in Florida and one in Washington effort. “This seems to be possible. However this is still something that generates controversy, as it is uncharted territory. There is debate over whether, as president, he would have the authority to deal with federal matters directly, or whether he could, for example, pardon himself,” explains Leavitt. Another option would be for him to order the attorney general to handle the cases, “but that would require a prosecutor to be willing to do that.”

Professor Super agrees with the possibility that Trump could get rid of the two federal cases if he is re-elected. “If I were Trump, the case I would be most afraid of would be Georgia because it’s the only case where there’s nothing in his favor,” he explains. Since this was a state trial, even if Trump were president, he would not have the power to remove him from office. In the case of Georgia, Trump and 18 other people are accused of trying to change the results of this state in the 2020 elections. What is unique about the charge is that to carry it out a special law against organized crime was implemented that was originally created to fight the mafia.

To delay the trial, the defense turned the courtroom into a soap opera worthy of a soap opera. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Fani Willis, was accused of being involved in exerting influence to appoint a lawyer to her team, with whom she had a relationship. To make matters worse, this alleged influence was compounded by a trip taken by Willis and the lawyer, the expenses of which he paid for (from the money he earned for Willis in obtaining his position Was).

Apart from diverting attention from Trump’s allegations, the whole mess took a long time and trial to unravel. The presiding judge, Scott McAfee, ultimately ruled that there was no real conflict of interest and allowed Prosecutor Willis to continue with the Georgia case. However, it is possible that in this case, instead of postponing the trial, Trump is trying to end it. “If Willis were removed from the case, someone from an entirely different office would take over, and there is reason to believe that the person appointed might immediately dismiss the case. So if you get rid of Willis, you probably get rid of the whole thing,” says the Georgetown University professor.

Likely to end up on the bench midway through the campaign

In the short term, the strategy of postponing trials may work in Trump’s favor, but in the long term it may work against him. “Trump thinks this is working to his advantage,” Levitt says, adding, “It’s unlikely he’ll go to trial before the election, but not impossible.” The former prosecutor points to Trump’s presidential immunity case, which is in the hands of the United States Supreme Court. The high court must decide whether the former president enjoyed immunity when he tried to overturn the 2020 election results, with a hearing to hear oral arguments scheduled for next week, though most likely “in June.” Punishment will not be given till the end.” ,

“Once the Supreme Court rules on immunity, the federal courts will be in charge of litigating cases and handling motions. They will deal with legal resources while continuing with the planned program. This is usually what happens: You set a date and the defense can enter a plea. And if necessary, you delay the trial again,” says the former Justice Department prosecutor. That is, the Supreme Court’s decision, if it says Trump does not have immunity, would lead to the trial’s start date being set for the attack on the Capitol, with the possibility that the trial would take place in the fall.

The issue here will not be whether a verdict is delivered before the elections on November 5, but the fact that there could be a picture of Trump sitting in the dock for a criminal case right in the middle of the campaign. Especially because of the attempt to change the outcome of the 2020 elections, an image that has already been seen in this month of April but that may have a greater impact on voters as the elections approach. Facts that could have a negative impact on the Republican leader. Levitt warns, “That’s why I say Trump believes it’s in his best interest to postpone the trials, but this program could offer a very different approach.”

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