After Donald Trump’s federal indictment, most legal pundits predicted the 45th president’s trial wouldn’t happen until after the 2024 election.
They may still be right. Almost no one anticipated the trial over Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents would begin on Aug. 14, which Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon set.
Donald Trump Trial Preparation
Interestingly, it was special counsel Jack Smith who filed a motion for the trial to be delayed until Dec. 11. That implies that despite months of prepping for the indictment and the audio leak that would seem to advance the prosecution’s case–the federal government just isn’t quite ready to put Trump on trial.
Either that or Smith wants to wrap up the ultimate Christmas gift for the Left with a festive trial to close the year. More precisely, bumping the trial to December could mean paralyzing Trump ahead of the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. That may be a gift to the rest of the Republican presidential primary field.
It’s worth mentioning that the other Trump indictment–the Manhattan case charging him with fraud for paying hush money to a porn star–is set for March 25, 2024, right in the midst of the primary.
Of course, what hurts most political candidates seems to help Trump. Republican voters are so annoyed at the seeming desire to get Trump at all costs that they rally around him–even if he isn’t the strongest general election candidate.
It’s entirely possible that either or both trials will cause Trump to surge to the nomination in a coronation-style fashion. Certainly, polls now don’t indicate anyone who can challenge him.
Conventional wisdom is that it’s better for Trump to delay the trials longer. But that’s largely based on a presumption of guilt. And, in the case of Trump, even a guilty verdict might not be that damaging.
Politically speaking, demanding his right to speedy trial might work out in Trump’s interest.
First, he so enjoys wallowing in his victimhood of an unfair world. If he can point to a quantitative constitutional rights violation – in this case, prosecutors dragging out a trial date preventing him the right to defend himself – it works in his favor.
If the federal trial happens in August, Trump is in a much friendlier venue in Miami than in Washington, D.C., or New York. He could likely be acquitted. There are so many thorny constitutional questions in this case that the prosecution is far from a homerun.
Trump on the Stump
Let’s face it, Trump would proclaim exoneration even with a hung jury. A hung jury allows the Justice Department to bring charges again. But that would be so perilous optics-wise.
Either way, he’ll enter early primary states looking like a winner.
Also, keep in mind, most Americans aren’t hanging onto every detail about Trump’s trial. If he is acquitted in Florida, the New York trial months later will not garner as much interest. Average Americans, regardless of political worldview, might think: “Didn’t you just flunk at a trial a few months back? When are you people going to give up?”
It’s tough to see how Trump gets acquitted by a rabid Democrat New York jury in the Stormy Daniels case. But a guilty verdict in Manhattan would be blunted politically by an earlier federal acquittal.
A double guilty verdict is possible. Even here, Trump could use it to his advantage. If a jury convicts him in the federal trial, Trump will appeal the case, and he can denounce the unfair trial – all while keeping the game going. His supporters will feel they are fighting the corrupt prosecution right up through challenges in higher courts.
It’s all part of the Trump reality show that premiered with the escalator ride in 2015 and audiences haven’t been able to turn away since. Two indictments (and maybe more to come) might seem unrealistic in a fictionalized political drama. But it just keeps the suspense going for the Trump Show. So, stay tuned.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.