Donald Trump may not be imprisoned during the 2024 election campaign, but he will be under a form of “house arrest,” confined to a court house in Washington, D.C. for the opening three or four months of the campaign.
Federal law requires criminal defendants to be personally present in court as their case is being tried. For Trump, this confinement will start when his trial does in early March.
The Republican primary calendar comes to a climax on March 5 when California, Texas, and many other large states will hold their primaries.
But U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith plans to bring Trump to trial on charges of election interference beginning early March, 2024.
So the timing of his trial will likely, legally block him from campaigning all spring.
To keep the presumptive Republican candidate for president from campaigning for the likely three or four month duration of the trail constitutes its own form of election interference.
During his trial, presidential candidate Donald Trump, who by then will likely have clinched the Republican Party nomination, will be confined to a courtroom in Washington, unable to campaign, answer questions, meet with voters or explain his plans for a second term.
What could be more of an interference with an election than this?
This trial and these charges could easily be adjudicated after the 2024 election without damage to the government or to the defendant.
The only point in bringing the case to trial now is that Democrats hope that Trump will be convicted and then rejected by the voters.
Generally, federal courts meet from Monday to Thursday, but not on Fridays. So will Trump only be available to voters and the media on weekends? Or will this case consume Fridays too?
Let’s count the ways the Justice Department and the Democrats are planning to use the criminal justice system to defeat Trump.
By refusing to hold the trial in a more politically nonpartisan venue than all-Democratic Washington DC and holding the trial in the heart of the campaign, they are stacking the deck.
With a likely all-Democratic jury, Trump will probably be convicted on at least some of the counts. By waiting until an election year to bring the charges, the Justice Department has made it very unlikely that an appeal could be made in time for the election.
Of course, the political history of this prosecution indicates that voters are very suspect that the charges are being brought mainly to influence the election.
If this history is any guide, Trump will probably win despite the Justice Department’s actions. But — it will not be because the government has failed to do everything it can to affect the case’s outcome.
But hold the presses!
Special Prosecutor Jack Smith has just asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule now on whether a former president has immunity from prosecution for events that transpired during his time in office.
I am very surprised — pleasantly so — at Smith’s fairness in asking for a ruling at this point in the process.
Could some residue of integrity have induced such a request?
Or am I missing something?
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