Home / General / Will Donald Trump face a verdict in a criminal trial prior to the 2024 presidential election?

Will Donald Trump face a verdict in a criminal trial prior to the 2024 presidential election?

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The answer to this question is, “almost certainly not.”

Here’s why:

(1) A cursory glance at New York criminal procedure — I’m of course open to correction here from people who know more about this subject — reveals that New York seems particularly friendly to the kind of interlocutory appeals that, given what is going to be at least a somewhat novel legal theory of the case, practically guarantee that Trump won’t actually go to [criminal] trial in New York prior to November of next year. (Trump is currently facing a couple of civil trials in New York, for defamation and fraud; the former, brought by one of the many women who say Trump has sexually assaulted them, is set to go to trial in three weeks, while the New York AG is pushing hard for the $250 million fraud trial to happen before next year’s election).

(2) The Georgia special grand jury investigating Trump’s criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election in that state shows no sign of rendering an imminent verdict.

(3) As for Merrick Garland’s endless dithering over bringing federal charges against Trump, the less said the better. I will say one thing: what possible justification can Garland have had to have waited nearly two full years to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s obviously central role in the January 6 insurrection? I’m sure Jack Smith is doing a very very very very careful and procedurally punctilious job, and — all snark aside — I’m fairly confident that he’s going to recommend criminal charges in at least the Mar-a-Lago documents case eventually. Nevertheless, just as in the New York and Georgia cases, the delay in even initiating legal proceedings regarding conduct that, in the case of Trump’s post-election conspiratorial criminality, is now well over two years in the past essentially guarantees that Trump will not face a criminal trial prior to next year’s election.

It seems to me that all the handwringing about the purported technical legal difficulties raised by the New York indictment overlook that, as a practical political matter, the function of that indictment, and the other indictment or three Trump will face, prior to next year’s election is/are at its core symbolic. Trump isn’t going on trial before that election, so what we are almost certainly going to have is a Republican presidential nominee — I hope everyone here has now come to terms with the reality that the odds of Trump getting the nomination, absent his actual shuffling off of this mortal coil prior to then, are 100% — who will be facing multiple criminal indictments at the moment that the American People in Their Mysteriously Inchoate Burkean Wisdom ™ decide whether or not to make this one-man crime wave president of the United States again.

At which point things are going to get really interesting.

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