Trump in the maze of trials - his best-case scenario is the worst for American democracy

Date: July 24, 2023.
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Donald Trump will not have much space to plan his campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination because his schedule is mostly dictated by the courts, before which he will have to appear as the accused.

He will be on trial in New York in October on charges of a $250 million fraud in which he inflated the value of his assets to obtain loans and insurance. The attorney general has requested that Trump be banned from doing business in New York.

E. Jean Carroll, a former magazine columnist, filed a lawsuit for defamation against Trump because he denied accusations that he raped her in the 1990s. This trial is scheduled for January.

He will appear before a jury for the first time in March, charged with falsifying business records.

And finally, he will stand trial on May 20, charged with withholding and leaking classified national security documents and obstructing the Department of Justice.

Federal judge Aileen Cannon set the trial start date last Friday and thus a significant framework for the primaries in the Republican Party, and possibly even the presidential elections in November if Trump wins the nomination.

Trump goes "clean" to the primaries

The trial of the former US president will begin after the primaries in the majority of federal states and after the Republican voters have already decided on a presidential candidate.

This further means that Trump would be nominated in most states as "clean" before the law while facing accusations he has presented as a "witch hunt” from which he has successfully profited so far.

The start of the trial before the federal court in Florida in May, goes hand in hand with Trump's plans to win the presidential nomination before the indictment details, practically accusing him of treason, begin to emerge.

However, the actions of his defence team so far have shown that they are not too happy about the trial being scheduled for May since they asked for the postponement until further notice and definitely after the November presidential elections next year.

Compromise and impartiality of the court

Judge Cannon has a reason to prove her objectivity by not meeting Trump's representatives because she has been under scrutiny. After all, she was appointed by Donald Trump in 2020.

She scheduled the trial for August 14, thus showing her intention to speed up the process, which does not suit the accused former president.

By postponing the start of the process to May, she practically determined a compromise halfway between the requests of special counsel Jack Smith, who has been handling the case on behalf of the Justice Department, and who proposed December, and the defence, which asked for a delay for the period after the presidential elections.

This compromise does not give either side a reason for excessive rejoicing because they can find both positive sides and risks, where Judge Cannon's decision seems undeniably fair.

Could the trials ruin support for Trump?

Trump could be satisfied because even before the final Republican convention from July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee, he would do most of the work and convince voters that he has been a victim of the Democratic administration and, as such, the best choice for another term.

He fears that this process in particular, and all before it, will influence the current high level of support because there are too many different accusations for his mantra about the victim of a witch hunt to be convincing and long-lasting.

If the trial in Florida, where he will be exposed to charges of endangering national security and the lives of US soldiers and intelligence officers, is completed before the November elections, it will represent a particular risk.

If the process is not completed until the presidential elections and if Trump wins a new mandate, that will be the worst-case scenario for the US, its democracy and its judiciary.

In that case, it is quite realistic that the accused President-elect would order his Attorney General simply to drop the whole case.

If it's postponed and beyond any election, the voters won't have information about whether or not he has been convicted of these very serious charges, which include wilful retention of national defence information and obstruction of justice when they cast their vote, if that matters to them, but then also it may impact whether or not he is actually held accountable in a court of law for this conduct at all”, said Jessica Roth, former federal prosecutor.

Through the eye of a needle until the new mandate

This is also the most desirable in Trump's headquarters. However, for establishing the truth about serious crimes, it is the worst-case scenario.

Combined with the possibility of a man with such charges re-entering the White House, for which there are prospects, this outcome would introduce the US into a period of severe delegitimisation of its legal and democratic system.

Until such a desired outcome, Donald Trump would have to go through a veritable maze and the eye of a needle in a series of court processes before he could be a presidential candidate again.

The expected filing of an indictment before a court in Georgia for interfering with the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections, when Trump asked officials to "find" him 11,000 additional votes necessary to defeat Joe Biden, should be added to that.

Filing this indictment in Fulton County, Georgia, is expected as early as next month as another chance for the US not to repeat the adventure of having an accused financial fraudster, bully, election manipulator and distributor of its top security secrets as president.

Source TA, Photo: Shutterstock