Donald Trump Trial Could Occur During the Primaries – Maybe Running for Office Is a Bad Idea Now? – Former President Donald Trump should plan to be very busy next spring. In addition to the 2024 presidential primaries, his criminal case in Manhattan is now set to begin on Monday, March 25, 2024. That would be just two days after the Louisiana primary – which is typically held on a Saturday.
How can Donald Trump keep running for office when all of this is occurring?
It would also be a week before the Wisconsin primary, meaning that Trump might have some breathing room to fly to New York City for the opening week of his trial before returning to the campaign trail.
Primary Season In Full Swing
By the time the trial begins, the key Iowa caucus and several primaries will already have been held, beginning with the New Hampshire primary on January 16, followed by South Carolina on January 27. It is also on March 5 that more than a dozen states – including California and Texas – hold the “Super Tuesday” primaries that can make or break a campaign.
It should be very clear by that point whether Trump maintains his frontrunner status or if his campaign is floundering.
However, even as Trump faced a second indictment in as many months – this one a federal indictment in Florida for his alleged mishandling of top secret documents after leaving office – he has vowed to remain in the race. The former president was previously arraigned in April after he was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records by Manhattan prosecutors, and that is the trial that will begin next March.
He’s In the Race – Even If He’s in Jail
In true Trump fashion, the former president vowed on Saturday to continue his White House run, even if he is convicted as part of the 37-count federal felony indictment that was issued in Florida last week.
“I’ll never leave,” Trump said in an interview aboard his plane, Politico reported. “Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one. In theory that was not doable.”
U.S. law doesn’t actually bar an individual from running for president, nor does it block him if he is actually convicted. As previously reported, Trump could actually follow socialist firebrand Eugene V. Debs, who received nearly a million votes (three percent of the popular vote) while behind bars in the 1920 election. Given Trump’s popularity with the MAGA crowd, it is almost certain he’d get as many votes.
Should such a long shot happen, and Trump was to win while in prison, legal scholars suggested the need for a duly elected president to fulfill the duties of the office would override a criminal conviction. The sentence would at the very least be put on hold, while Trump could even pardon himself – a strategy Debs had said he’d employ.
Facing Legal Battles
Trump still needs to get through the legal battles, as well as next year’s primaries. Trump is the first former U.S. president to face federal charges, but he’s not hiding from that fact. Instead, he has used it to garner support beyond his MAGA base and is appealing to the broader Republican Party, suggesting that his political rivals are engaged in a witch hunt.
“The ridiculous and baseless indictment by the Biden administration’s weaponized department of injustice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country,” he said during a speech at the Georgia Republican party’s convention, The Guardian reported.
The strategy has worked, as even Trump’s rivals have offered their support.
“Stop hiding behind the special counsel and stand before the American people and explain why this indictment went forward,” former Vice President Mike Pence said last Friday. “I had hoped the Department of Justice would see its way clear to resolve these issues with the former president without moving forward with charges, and I’m deeply troubled to see this indictment move forward.”
Trump’s closest political foe Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also tweeted last week, “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation. Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?”
However, Some Rivals See Blood in the Water
Those many mainstream Republican lawmakers are standing behind Trump, there have already been those who are willing to publicly break from the former president.
Most notable was Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who is running for president and who has increasingly criticized Trump. He described the indictment as “devastating” and “evidence filled” during an appearance on CNN on Friday.
“The bigger issue for our country is: is this the type of conduct that we want from someone who wants to be president of the United States?” questioned Christie.
In addition, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, another vocal Trump critic running for president went further and called upon Trump to drop out of the race.
“What we see is the facts thus far is that he treated [the documents] like entertainment tools,” suggested Hutchinson. “Staying in the race does a disservice to the office of presidency and to the country and to the important decision that we have to make.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.