The former president, facing four separate indictments, has been telling confidants that he’s worried about going to prison: Former President Donald Trump, over the course of his four different criminal indictments, has struck a public posture of defiance, repeatedly declaring his innocence and all of the investigations and indictments as schemes by his enemies.
But behind the scenes, the former president is very much afraid that he could end up going to prison, Rolling Stone reported this week.
Donald Trump has been asking his lawyers questions about a possible prison stint, whether he’ll go to a “club fed” minimum-security facility or a tougher one, and whether he’ll need to wear an orange jumpsuit should he go to prison. He’s also asked whether home confinement, in lieu of jail, is a possibility should he be convicted and his appeals fail.
“While Trump publicly professes confidence, privately, three sources familiar with his comments say, he’s been asking lawyers and other people close to him what a prison sentence would look like for a former American president,” the Rolling Stone story said. It added that “it’s clear the gravity of his mounting legal peril is getting to Trump.”
There’s also the question of what will happen with the Secret Service protection that Trump is entitled to, for life, as a former president.
His attitude, Rolling Stone says, is different from Trump’s posture during the Mueller investigation when, per one White House official of the era, Trump “was not remotely worried about consequences from the Russia inquiry.” This was largely because Trump didn’t believe that he had done anything wrong, and also knew the Justice Department had a policy of not indicting a sitting president.
The Washington Post had reported back in early August that Trump’s Secret Service protection may make it logistically impossible for him to actually go to prison, even if he is convicted of crimes.
“Any federal district judge ought to understand it raises enormous and unprecedented logistical issues,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor and frequent past Trump critic, told the Post. “Probation, fines, community service, and home confinement are all alternatives.”
Trump faces 91 criminal counts across four separate cases, two of them in federal court as well as state matters in New York and Georgia. And all of this is happening while Trump is running for president again, and holding a massive lead in the Republican contest. Trump is likely to spend a great deal of the year 2024 going back and forth between the campaign trail and courtrooms– and it remains unclear what will happen if he is convicted of crimes while at the same time winning the nomination of his party.
Meanwhile, bad news has continued to trickle out about Trump’s different cases. In the Georgia RICO case, attorney Lin Wood has agreed to become a prosecution witness, District Attorney Fani Willis said this week, although Wood went on to say on social media that he has not “flipped” on the former president.
In the federal documents case, ABC News has reported in recent days that Trump had written to-do lists for his assistant on classified documents and that the assistant has testified that this happened.
Molly Michael, the assistant, per ABC, “received requests or taskings from Trump that were written on the back of notecards, and she later recognized those notecards as sensitive White House materials — with visible classification markings — used to brief Trump while he was still in office about phone calls with foreign leaders or other international-related matters.”
Michael also testified that Trump had told her “You don’t know anything about the boxes.”
The documents case is believed to be the strongest of the four cases against the former president, with former Mar-a-Lago IT worker Yuscil Taveras having already agreed to cooperate with prosecutors (although Taveras, at least as of earlier this month, was still employed by the Trump Organization.)
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.