Donald Trump has now entered a new phase of his life. From this point in life until the day he dies, his life will revolve around criminal charges. Whereas for decades he has succeeded in avoiding having criminal charges filed against him, in this new phase, everything will be about his criminality – his indictments, his trials, his penalties including possible imprisonment.
All the while as this first indictment of the Wicked Witch of the West Wing unfolds, he will watch a parade of his nearest and dearest Flying Monkeys being forced to testify against him. And he has to live with the possibility that one or more of them could go “Michael Cohen.” After all, what does Steve Bannon have to gain by falling on his sword for him and going to prison for him?
A key area not being fully discussed is the logistics of the indictments. I am not referring to what may or may not happen on Tuesday when he supposedly peacefully surrender. Instead I am referring to what happens when the next indictment occurs which should be imminent. That one will be “massive” and include a host of characters in a possible RICO charge.
All the fuss about the weakness of the New York indictment and whether it should have been first or not misses the point. For now it occupies center stage. The trial won’t even begin for months. But in a few short days that indictment will share the stage with the next indictment. Stop focusing on the minutia of what will happen Tuesday and start thinking about what will happen after the next indictment and the ones to come.
Obviously one person cannot be in two places at the same time. The challenge the judges will have is in the scheduling of the two cases. They will have to coordinate their decisions. Will the two cases be tried sequentially? If so, which one comes first?
To some extent the scheduling may depend on what appeals are filed. By now all judges are wise to the ways of delay practiced by the defendant and his expensive lawyers who demand to be paid. At this point, regardless of what indictment came first, that does not mean which case will be tried first.
Where will the defendant stay at night for the Fulton County indictment? To the best of my knowledge he does not have a home there. Will he say at the home of a MAGA supporter who subsequently will turn the room into a tourist site? Will he stay in jail (which is free!)? How about Motel 6? Whatever the answer is, the point is the defendant will have to make lodging decisions about where he will stay during the trial of each indictment. Those decisions will be dependent on the decisions of others, that is, the judges. Other people will now have control of his schedule.
There are limits as to how much the judges can disrupt the lives of the jurors during these trials. They are, after all, regular Americans with lives to lead. If the judges seek to alternate the conducting of the trials if they are not sequential, then how would that work? If there are too many gaps leading to too long a trial, then that would not be fair to either the defendant or the jurors. The scheduling of the two trials given multiple indictments is not a topic that I have heard discussed so far.
In addition, jurors will be aware of the jurors from the other cases. They will see how these jurors are treated in the media and by MAGAs. Even if they are precluded from discussing their own case, they will be talking about the other cases.
The probable additional defendants in the Fulton County case adds another complicating wrinkle to the scheduling efforts.
Suppose the Fulton County case defendants includes elected officials. All the attention so far has been on what the New York indictment means for the presidential campaign of one individual. But what if you are a sitting Senator or Georgia State representative, then what? How will your appearances in Court as a defendant during the trial coincide with when your legislative chamber is in session? The effort to reconcile these competing scheduling requirement may well tax the judicial offices. Where is the AI program to weigh all these variables?
Time and time again, people advise the best advice for a client like Donald Trump is to keep your mouth shut. Time and time again such advice falls on deaf ears. His recent threatening of death and destruction and inciting MAGAs to take the law into their own hands are examples of this. It only leads to additional charges. Racism and anti-Semitism already have been unleashed. There will be more to come.
Can he take the advice of counsel this time? Presumably, whatever the schedule is for the two trials, he will have weekends off to campaign. Is it possible for him to appear at professional political wrestling rally and not talk about the trials? Exactly what else will he want to talk about for 1-2 hours? Even if he is given a script, past experience shows that he will not stick to it. How will he respond to shouts from the audience about the indictments? And what about his use of social media?
At first he may try self-constraint. For an immature child with the emotional maturity of a three-year old, there is a very short window in which he can behave. Are his handlers going to take away his devices? Are his campaign appearances going to cease because his lawyers, and not the judges, seek to muzzle him? The discussion about the impact of the indictments on his presidential campaign miss the point since it focuses on the reactions of the MAGAs. The true challenge to him will be to curtail speech that would get him in legal trouble. Such self-censorship cannot last for long hence the gag orders. Now we would have a presidential candidate forbidden to communicate until such communications are screened by the judge. In legal terms the logistics of two cases may drive him bonkers.
The pending federal indictments only complicate the matters more. Besides the scheduling, inconveniencing of the jurors, and gag order on a presidential candidate, there are political considerations.
The federal indictments can be divided into four cases:
1. Mar-a-Lagogate – the easy one. It could follow soon after the Fulton County case. This one is fairly straightforward and caries some serious penalties. By this time, Americans will have become used to seeing him arraigned. Maybe some elected MAGA officials will have grown tired of defending him by this point. Maybe they will have seen that contrary to everything Lindsay Graham has said there will not have been any violent uprisings to take the country back from George Soros operatives.
The real political disruption will occur in the next three indictments
2. Obstruction at the state legislatures
3. Alternate electors
4. January 6.
These indictments involve Republican Congressmen referred to in the Georgia phone call. Forget about Mark Meadows and all the other Flying Monkeys for a moment. Focus on the complicit Republican Congressmen. Republicans have a very narrow majority at present. Lindsay Graham’s absence from the Senate because he is on trial does not change the dynamics of the Senate. Five MAGA Representatives on trial does change the dynamics of the House. It changes who will have the majority on the floor of the House for any vote even before 2024. It changes who are running the retribution committees. It changes who may run in 2024.
To wrap up, the New York criminal indictment, separate from the civil indictment with an October trial set, is just the beginning of the rest of the life of Donald Trump. It will have immediate effects simply in scheduling and conducting the trials. It will have medium term political effects when he is gagged by either his lawyers or the judge and in maintaining a working Republican majority in the House. And it will have long term effects as people decide to get off the Trump bus and instead throw him under it. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.