Trump's Indictment Pile Up May Lead To Consequences

Donald Trump took a political gamble Monday in the federal election conspiracy case that may already be colliding with his newly minted criminal indictment in Georgia.

After U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan warned Trump last week against making “inflammatory” statements about the criminal case pending before her court, Trump opted to test Chutkan’s resolve immediately, calling her “highly partisan” and “VERY BIASED & UNFAIR” Monday on his social media platform, Truth Social.

Though legal experts immediately began analyzing the implications of Trump’s transgression, his testing of boundaries makes more sense as a political ploy. While lashing out at a federal judge overseeing one’s court case seems highly inadvisable at best and just plain stupid at worst, Trump’s legal strategy has always been a political one: If he manages to reclaim the White House in 2024, he plans to wriggle out of being held accountable for any federal crimes.  

And from a political standpoint, throwing barbs at Chutkan arguably has upsides, assuming one doesn’t mind being on some form of lockdown. In the eyes of the MAGA base, attacking Chutkan makes Trump seem powerful and undaunted by his present legal woes. If Chutkan balks at reining in Trump, then Trump’s tough-guy bluster will have helped him escape accountability again. However, if Chutkan does come after Trump, he can embrace his own martyrdom and victimhood—which particularly animates his cultists.

It’s impossible to know what goes through Trump’s mind, and whether his incendiary statements are more strategic in nature or simply demonstrate an imbecilic lack of impulse control. But Trump’s counterpunch instincts are undoubtedly second nature—muscle memory responses that invariably delight his followers and/or leave them enraged. Viewed through that lens, Trump’s legally perverse antics are a function of political leverage.

There’s just one problem with those Trump instincts: Georgia statute regulating criminal cases differs from federal law and, in some cases, may prove more perilous to Trump. Not to mention that crimes at the state level can’t be pardoned by a president (or governor, in Georgia specifically).

Legal expert and co-editor-in-chief of Just Security Ryan Goodman pointed to one key difference regarding a defendant’s eligibility for release on bail.

Georgia puts the burden of proof on the defendant to demonstrate they pose “no significant risk of intimidating witnesses.”

“Note: That is a presumption against release,” Goodman tweeted Monday.


That’s bad news for Trump, who not only attacked Chutkan Monday but also went after former Georgia Lt. Gov. Jeff Duncan, a critic of Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims and a key witness for the prosecution in the Georgia case.

“I am reading reports that failed former Lt. Governor of Georgia, Jeff Duncan, will be testifying before the Fulton County Grand Jury,” Trump wrote Monday on Truth Social. “He shouldn’t. I barely know him but he was, right from the beginning of this Witch Hunt, a nasty disaster for those looking into the Election Fraud that took place in Georgia.” Duncan ignored Trump’s thinly veiled threat and testified before the grand jury on Monday.

As Andrew Weissmann, former lead prosecutor in the Robert Mueller inquiry, noted Monday on MSNBC, “If the law is in Georgia that the defendant has to establish to a judge that he poses no risk of intimidating witnesses—no risk of intimidating witnesses—or otherwise obstructing justice, that is a tough hurdle.”

Meeting such a standard, Weissmann added, seems particularly difficult for someone who has said, “If you come after me, I’ll come after you.”

So while Trump’s blowhard strategy might arguably make some sense at the federal level, it appears to have diminishing returns in Georgia, where a potential 2024 political win doesn’t get him off the hook legally.

While Trump’s run for president is already in conflict with being thrown in jail, Weissman added the unstated but obvious: “Remember, you can run for president without intimidating witnesses.”

Unless your name is Donald Trump.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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