Trump Can Delay His Trial. But Can He Delay It Enough?
Also, read to the bottom for some interesting trivia facts.
Donald Trump walking by Picasso’s “Woman Sitting By A Window” (1932). I put him there. He didn’t actually walk by it. Both Picasso and Trump are mentioned in this post.
Happy Wednesday! Let’s do one of those newsletter posts where I talk about multiple subjects that aren’t necessarily connected.
The Twisty Timing of Trump’s Trial
When is Donald Trump’s DC trial going to start now that the appeals court has ruled against him? We’ll get a better idea next week once he appeals to the Supreme Court, but according to Just Security, the most likely scenario is that the trial happens pretty close to the election:
Once the Court issues its decision, the case would then return immediately to the district court, which would then restart pretrial proceedings. With another three months of those pretrial proceedings to go, trial would begin approximately between July 5 and July 15 (in the shorter cert grant scenario) or between July 19 and 30 (in the longer scenario). A three month trial would conclude between Oct. 5 and Oct. 15 (in the shorter cert grant scenario) or between Oct. 19 and Oct. 30 (in the longer scenario).
Accordingly, if the Supreme Court follows the timelines we lay out above–which we believe are well-supported by its prior practices–Trump’s trial would conclude no later than just before Election Day on the longer timeline and by Sept. 1 on the shorter timeline if there is a denial of cert.
One thing that is clear about this schedule is that it basically closes the door on Nikki Haley being tapped to be the nominee at the Republican National Convention in July. That was always totally a longshot possibility but it entirely rested on the premise of him being found guilty by then. Doesn’t seem like that’s in the cards. I’m not entirely sure what the point is of her even staying in the race for the next few months.
But the primary aside, Trump’s delay strategy seems pretty high risk here. If he can delay it past the election, which is his goal, then it’s great news for him, but if he can’t actually push it that far and it happens in the fall, it’s risky. For one thing, he’ll have to be in court every day and won’t be campaigning. But beyond that, it’s risky to have this conclusion near election day. If it happened in the summer, and he was found guilty, there would be sufficient time for his supporters to get over it and rationalize supporting him again, but if he is found guilty on October 30th, they might not have time to make that mental adjustment. On the other hand, this goes for the Democrats, too. If he is acquitted, he will get a spike in support. If that happens in the summer, it will decline by election day. If it happens in early November, he will ride higher into election day. To make all of this even harder to game out, early voting will begin in lots of jurisdictions in October.
And that’s just the DC trial!
The Georgia one just isn’t going to happen this year, but the NY one is. It’s just that no one really cares about the NY one because the Stormy Daniels thing is such old news and even if he’s found guilty, he probably is just getting a fine. But he could still technically be “a felon” after it.
The Florida case about the documents is nominally still supposed to happen this summer, but everyone has always said that it would get pushed back because of various pretrial motions to do with classified material. (The conventional wisdom among liberal law types is also that the judge in that case is in no rush.) It seems hard to imagine that the Mar-a-Lago one and the DC one could both happen before the election.
A lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about think that Trump has a good chance of getting a mistrial in the Florida case just because of the jury pool being more sympathetic to him. I also don’t know what I’m talking about, but I am suspicious of that belief. I am also suspicious of the belief that he will definitely be found guilty in the DC one because that jury pool hates him.
In general, it seems like people take jury duty seriously. Judges have to find juries in tough situations all the time. Sometimes people have to decide cases while receiving death threats from the mafia! It can be done. The thing about the documents case is it seems pretty open and shut. This isn’t how the world works, but I would be sort of curious to know, given the choice between the two, which Trump’s attorneys and Jack Smith would prefer to have happen this year.
One scenario everyone understands could happen is that he is found guilty of some of these and wins the election anyway. Polls show that a significant number of Republicans say they won’t vote for him if he’s found guilty of a felony, but I really think that the way the human mind works, most of those people will talk themselves into it if they have the chance. But let me throw out another crazy scenario: what if the trial is still going on election day? And he wins. And is then found guilty in November or December?
If that happens, Trump will take office on January 20th, and his sentence will just be delayed four years. But Democrats will scream bloody murder and march their little hearts out, demanding that he be impeached the second he is sworn in. Republicans won’t go for it. Everyone will be driven crazy by everything.
We’re getting to the point where liberals are jerking off to “Will he go to prison, and if so, what prison” stories. NYMag has a long version of this. They interviewed some former Secret Service guys about what it would be like to protect him if he’s sentenced to serve time in a minimum security federal prison. After thousands of words of this fan fiction, you get to the section where they acknowledge that, in all likelihood, Donald Trump will never be sentenced to prison because it’s just a logistical nightmare for the prison and for the Secret Service. They’ll find a way to sentence him to home confinement of some sort.
That NYMag story is your Democratic fantasy for the day, so let’s now go the opposite direction and do some noodling on what happens to the mental health of Democrats if Trump wins.