Former President Donald Trump has been indicted three times already. Still, Trump could well be indicted a fourth time, and TIME is making the case that the fourth indictment may be the “most challenging case for Trump.”
The fourth indictment in question stems from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s two-year investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. Specifically, Willis is investigating Trump’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump supposedly told Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to win the state.
Here’s what may make the Georgia case so challenging for Trump.
No Pardon for Donald Trump
Trump would not be able to pardon himself in Georgia. “The Constitution grants a president the ability to pardon anyone for federal crimes and those prosecuted by the Attorney of the District of Columbia on behalf of the United States,” TIME reported. “[The Constitution] does not allow a president authority to issue pardons for state convictions.”
Whether a president can pardon himself has not been settled, although it is certainly a possibility, meaning that if Trump were convicted and elected, he would likely try to pardon himself. That wouldn’t be possible with the Georgia conviction, however.
In Georgia, Trump couldn’t even appeal to Governor Brian Kemp, as the authority to grant pardons for criminal convictions rests with an independent state board.
Hard to Stall
“Trump has a decades-long history of successfully delaying legal procedures and investigations,” TIME reported. “His legal team has already signaled he will try to do that for at least some of his current legal challenges.”
The federal cases would be easier to stall, relative to the Georgia case.
“If the proceedings were delayed until after the 2024 election and Trump returned to the presidency, he could simply instruct his Justice Department to stop pursuing the prosecutions,” TIME reported.
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, agreed. If Trump were elected, he “could just appoint, oh, I don’t know, for example, Jeffrey Clark, as the new attorney general, and Jeffrey Clark could make his own decision to shut down those cases,” Mariotti said. “Ultimately, the executive power to prosecute within the executive branch is derived from the power of the president out of the Constitution.”
Delaying the Georgia case, however, wouldn’t be so straightforward.
The trial could be televised
While the news will cover all three current Trump indictments with unrelenting ferocity, the trials are probably not going to be televised because the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedures typically prohibits criminal cases from being videotaped and because New York state is very strict about videotaping. Meaning none of the three trials are expected to be videotaped. Georgia could mark an exception.
“Georgia, on the other hand, offers strong protections for open courts,” TIME reported. “Members of the media who submit requests to record proceedings are generally allowed to do so. If a judge intends to deny a request, they must promptly hold a hearing on the matter.”
So, if Willis indeed prosecutes Donald Trump, the trial will likely be televised. Meaning the trial has vast potential to impact the perceptions of the American public.
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.