Prosecutors race to get Trump to trial before he’s possibly reelected: Here’s some points on what could take place between now and then

Jack Smith Special counsel Jack Smith speaks about an indictment of former President Donald Trump, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, at a Department of Justice office in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Ecclesiastes 5:8 If you see the extortion[a] of the poor, or the perversion[b] of justice and fairness in the government,[c] do not be astonished by the matter. For the high official is watched by a higher official,[d] and there are higher ones over them![e]

Important Takeaways:

  • If former President Donald Trump gets reelected, he could derail the federal legal cases against him, according to legal experts who said he’d have several ways to get out of the jam once he’s back in the White House.
  • Special counsel Jack Smith has brought two sets of charges against Mr. Trump at the federal level. One case accuses him of keeping secret documents that should have been turned over to the government. The case is pending in the Southern District of Florida with a trial date scheduled for May of 2024, though experts say it likely will be delayed further into the election year.
  • Smith’s other case accuses the former president of fueling the 2020 election chaos by intentionally misleading the country about the results, and pushing for Congress and states to overturn President Biden’s win.
  • That case is pending in Washington, with a trial date not yet set. Like the Florida one, though, it could also be delayed close to — or beyond — the election.
  • “Delay is always to his advantage,” said Elliot Mincberg
  • If Mr. Trump wins reelection and gets into office before a verdict is rendered, he could shut down the federal cases.
  • Trump could order his new attorney general to disband the special counsel and drop the charges altogether.
  • Trump could also choose to pardon himself at any time — even before a trial takes place. That’s known as a preemptive pardon.
  • In the state cases, New York has charged Mr. Trump with falsifying business records concerning hush payments to two women and a hotel doorman.
  • In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney this week charged Mr. Trump and 18 other individuals with crimes related to his effort to have Georgia overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in the state in 2020.
  • Mincberg said those cases are more challenging for Mr. Trump.
  • “He doesn’t have power at the state level even if he becomes president,” Mr. Mincberg said.
  • Trump would have to rely on state pardon boards, which typically — in both New York and Georgia — require the convicted person to have served part of their sentence before receiving a pardon.

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