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The End of Donald Trump Could Begin in a Courtroom

President Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
President Donald Trump

What Would Happen If Donald Trump Is Indicted? Donald Trump’s haters are always searching for the magic weapon to take him down.

Two impeachments never removed him from office. Now the hope for his enemies is for Donald Trump to be indicted for a crime while he is running for president.

This could end up being the final straw that weighs down his quest to occupy the White House again. What would a criminal indictment or indictments look like?

Three Ongoing Paths to Potential Indictment

There are three main avenues of investigation that prosecutors and a special counsel are pursuing.

First, the Fulton County, Georgia district attorney, Fani Willis, is examining Trump’s role in attempting to overturn the Georgia presidential election results in 2020. It started with a presidential phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Trump wanted Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” and change the election in Trump’s favor in the Peach State. Trump has maintained that the phone call was “perfect.”

Legal Woes in Georgia

The special grand jury in Georgia has convened and has issued a report that can make recommendations on whether Donald Trump is ultimately indicted.

Then the district attorney can convene a traditional grand jury that could end up indicting Trump for illegally putting his thumb on the scales of the election.

Donald Trump: His Role in the January 6 Insurrection

Next, Trump could be indicted for his actions during the lead-up to the January 6 insurrection and on the day of the riot. The House Select Committee that investigated January 6 recommended there be criminal charges against Trump.

There were ten public hearings and over 1,000 interviews during the 18-month investigation.

The committee made four criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. 

What Did He Allegedly Do?

The recommended and potential charges are conspiracy to defraud the country, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to lie, and aiding an insurrection. 

PBS described this in more detail as a “multi-part conspiracy to overturn the election, purposely disseminating false allegations of voter fraud, pressuring Congress, the Justice Department and his vice president to join his efforts to subvert the results so that he could stay in power and then refusing for hours to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol on January 6.”

The DOJ has appointed a special counsel named Jack Smith to continue to examine the findings of the committee and carry on with other aspects of the investigation.

The Classified Documents Mess 

Third, Trump is under investigation, again by Jack Smith, in his classified documents imbroglio in which a grand jury has been convened.

The main issue is that Trump improperly took and refused to voluntarily give up classified material to the National Archives

Donald Trump Won’t Give Up Easy

Despite all of this legal jeopardy that normal politicians would wilt over, Trump is of course defiant. He is highly adept at hiring lawyers who can use due process to string out a legal procedure indefinitely. He has the ability to compartmentalize legal woes in a way that allows him to run for president again.

No one plays up grievances like Trump can. How many times has he used the words “hoax” or “witch hunt” during the various investigations against him?

Too many to count.

What Happens Next?

If indicted he will use his legal problems to show that that Biden’s DOJ and the Democrat district attorney in Georgia are persecuting him for political reasons. The problem for Trump is that all of these legal issues could plausibly end up in indictments. The least serious is the classified documents saga. Biden had top secret papers in his possession too, so the classified documents is more of a nuisance complaint, and I don’t see an indictment here hurting Trump that much politically.

There is little criminal intent or clear obstruction of justice, merely gross negligence with documents and that is not a serious offense in the eyes of the public. I don’t see anything more than a fine if were to be indicted and convicted for the classified documents.

The Georgia Case Is Not the Strongest

For the Georgia case, prosecutors have to show that Trump had criminal and malicious intent to overthrow the results of an election that is beyond reasonable doubt. Trump’s lawyers can say that he was just musing out loud and exploring his legal options during the call with Raffensperger. Donald Trump could also claim he was being sarcastic and unserious during the call.

The January 6 Matter Could Be His Undoing

The most significant legal problem for Trump is January 6. Trump may get indicted for one or more of the committee’s recommendations. His actions leading up to the riots and during the attack on Capitol Hill are in plain sight. He did ask his supporters to come to a rally in Washington to “Stop the Steal.”

He did have a rally and implore his followers to go to the Capitol. And during the riots he did nothing for a number of hours before finally telling people to stand down on social media. The charge that could get him is the interruption of an official duty of Congress.

There is ample evidence that he did this and enough for a grand jury to indict.

It is not clear how the matter would proceed from there. Donald Trump would somehow have to give himself up to authorities and be arraigned. Would that mean a public “perp walk” in front of a media circus? We are in unchartered territory here for sure.

What if Donald Trump was indicted in all three cases against him? He would have to appear in court in front of a judge in multiple jurisdictions. This could all happen during the campaign. He thus could be indicted, convicted, and sentenced for at least one crime.

Donald Trump doesn’t appear to have any idea how serious his legal situation is. 

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Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.