According to the filing, the defense team argued that there is “nor reason for any expedited trial.” Specifically, the team was concerned with Trump’s ability to obtain an impartial jury and a fair trial if the trial were held as the 2024 election were unfolding.
“Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively) if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendant’s ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” the defense team wrote in the filing. “The extraordinary case presents a serious challenge to both the fact and perception of our American democracy. The court now presides over a prosecution advanced by the administration of a sitting President against this chief political rival, himself a leading candidate for the Presidency of the United States.”
The Department of Justice is pushing for a December 2023 trial, which would coincide with the 2024 election.
Donald Trump and His Team Have a Point
I’m not sure that Trump will ever be able to find an impartial jury or a fair trial.
He’s Donald Trump, probably the most recognizable and most divisive figure in the world – certainly in America.
Just about wherever Trump goes, he’ll find that roughly half the population abhors him, while the other half adores him.
That isn’t going to change before, during, or after the 2024 election. That’s just a continuous reality, making venue selection in Trump’s trial vital.
But Trump’s defense team does hit at an important point that deserves consideration.
The prosecution works for the Department of Justice, which is housed within the Executive Branch, which President Biden oversees.
And President Biden is running for reelection, and will most likely be pitted against Donald Trump in the general election – which would, of course, be a rematch of the 2020 election.
So, yes, the prosecution is a part of the Biden administration and that prosecution is being used to prosecute Biden’s chief political rival.
The Troubling Truth
The technical fact that Biden’s administration is prosecuting a political rival could perhaps be rationalized, or made to seem less starkly political, were the specifics of the case different, were Trump’s behavior so egregious as to demand prosecution.
But the behavior in question was somewhat arbitrary.
Yes, Trump had classified documents in his possession. He shouldn’t have.
But he also had the power, while still president, to unilaterally declassify the very same documents.
Had Trump done so the entire case in question would just not exist.
Trump could have waved a wand and unclassified the documents and saved himself this entire situation.
And either way, classified documents are typically an administrative issue, not a criminal issue.
Meaning the punishment is usually administrative, i.e. firing, revoked access, etc., rather than criminal prosecution. The simple fact is that Trump is facing a terminal sentence, the rest of his life in prison, for an administrative issue that his main political rival’s administration is choosing to prosecute.
That may seem like a Trump-favorable framing of the situation but those are really just the facts. And those facts set a dangerous precedent.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.