As former president Donald Trump faces four current indictments, he faces the prospect of these trials interfering with his capability to campaign during the presidential election next year. The former president is set to see at least six trials next year, and is required to attend every single one of them.
However, besides the regular legal measures and petitions his legal team can make, experts say that Donald Trump could very well turn the tables on prosecutors by arguing that being present during hearings infringe on his First Amendment rights, and push for court appearance dates that fall after the election. That is, if he manages to secure the GOP nomination and become the official Republican presidential candidate for 2024. And given the support recent polls are showing that he has, that just might become the case.
“I think it is a good argument… to say, look, there is a general election coming. I – assuming that Trump becomes the Republican candidate, the voters have a strong, First Amendment-inflected interest to hear from me. And to require me to sit in this courtroom without them hearing my voice is inflicting an irreparable injury not just on me but on the country,” law professor and former federal prosecutor and Daniel Richman told NPR.
The “indictment effect”
Even now, Donald Trump is working news of his indictments in his favor.
Besides taking the habit of badmouthing his detractors in his Truth Social posts – “Deranged (Special Counsel) Jack Smith”, “Corrupt (President) Joe Biden”, “’Liddle Mike Pence” – he knows enough to fan the flames in his voter base and portray himself as a martyr of sorts and a victim of an elitist system out to get him.
Some media outlets have called it the “indictment effect”, and to the former chief executive’s benefit – and to the chagrin of his detractors, including those in the Republican party – it appears to be working.
Polls conducted after news of each of Trump’s indictments show a rise in support among Republican voters.
Recent polls by the Marquette Law School, and the New York Times and Siena College show Trump enjoying a very comfortable lead against his rivals in the GOP, with 69% and 76% of Republican voters favoring him, respectively.
Donald Trump Might Have a Plan
Another thing working in Trump’s favor is the novelty of his case. Not only will he likely be the Republican presidential nominee, but the trials will be scheduled during an election year. Add his polarizing nature and character – plus his promise to continue to speak out regarding his indictments even if a judge restricts his ability to do so – nothing is set in stone, and anything could happen.
“Nothing about this case is typical,” said D.C. law professor Mark MacDougall told NPR. MacDougall, who is an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, also clarified that in his opinion, the prohibition order federal prosecutors are seeking in Trump’s third indictment likely won’t be as restrictive as the former chief executive’s lawyers are making it out to be.
“Donald Trump can, of course, say anything he wants about the cases in which he is under indictment and his prospective defenses,” MacDougal said, adding, “ it’s not a gag order and would not restrict him from talking about almost anything. He just could not use the evidence produced by the government to support those statements.”
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.