The Big House or the White House

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

For more than a year it has been clear that in 2024 it would be decided where Trump would spend the rest of his golden years, in jail or in the White House. With four trials coming up, two in federal courts and two in state courts, and indictments for 91 felonies, the odds are on the former, but Trump’s strategy in legal matters has always been to delay, hoping that the issue would go away because the other party doesn’t have the energy or the means to continue. In the current situation the other party is the government, which has sufficient means in spite of Trump’s tax cuts for the rich, but if Trump is elected for a second term he can make all cases disappear, and he has already signaled that he won’t leave the White House after four years but will abolish the constitution and rule as a dictator.

      The indictment that is most threatening to Trump is for the January 6th ‘Obstruction of an Official Proceeding,’ Trump’s attempt to prevent the certification of the 2020 vote, which will be tried in federal court in DC. The trial is scheduled to start on March 4th, and although Trump and his lawyers have thrown pretty much every ‘legal’ argument they could think of against the wall to see what would stick, like the spaghetti Trump used to throw against the wall in the study next to the Oval Office, for now that date still stands. Those arguments are two-fold: Trump claims that all he did was make sure that there had been no fraud in the elections, one of his duties as US President, and that as president he should have been immune for any actions he took or didn’t take that day anyway.

      A minor problem with the first argument, which Trump also uses in the Georgia election interference case, is that elections in the US are a state, not a federal affair, of which the government has to accept the results unless fraud can be proven in a court of law. Moreover, it is a bit of a stretch to claim that asking a Secretary of State to ‘find’ votes, pressuring state legislators not to certify election results and facilitating the putting together of panels of ‘alternate electors’ are all tasks the president’s office has to perform. The argument that Trump should be immune from prosecution led to the bizarre acknowledgement by one of his lawyers in the DC Court of Appeals that the president could have an opponent murdered without legal consequences unless he was first impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted by the US Senate.

      The Appeals Court will shortly rule on Trump’s claim of total immunity, and if Trump loses, as is to be expected, he will file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Then there are two possibilities: if SCOTUS refuses to take up the appeal the case will remain on track, but if five members of its conservative majority vote to take up the case there will be a delay, possibly even until June, which would mean that Trump may not be tried before the presidential election. Trump’s argument why the president should have immunity is amusing, because he claims that otherwise ‘a president would get nothing done.’ As a career mob boss Trump cannot imagine doing anything that is not criminal, and he is not aware of the fact that before him no president has ever been indicted after leaving the White House, although Nixon escaped with a pardon.

      After the January 6th case the ‘Violation of Campaign Finance Law’ case in New York City is on deck in April. Trump’s former gofer Michael Cohen has already done jail time for the crime of paying off a porn star at Trump’s instruction and with his money, and Cohen’s co-conspirator ‘Individual #1’ will not escape a sentence here, unless he can also stretch this case and win the election. The fate of the other two cases is murkier. The RICO case District Attorney Fani Willis has put together in Fulton County, GA, is too complex for a fast trial, although many of Trump’s co-conspirators here are singing like a K-pop band of yellow canaries, while Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon in Miami is doing everything she can to delay the stolen certified documents case, which could put Trump in jail for the rest of his life.

      In two civil cases in New York Trump is about to incur serious losses. The financial fraud case that ended this week with an unhinged tirade by Trump in court could soon spell the end of the Trump Organization and Trump’s ability to do business in New York, as well as force him to pay a fine of anywhere between $250 and $370 million. It would put an end to the myth of Trump as a successful businessman that propelled him into the White House in the first place. The second defamation case filed by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who was raped by Trump in a Manhattan department store, will add significantly to the $5 million penalty he was already hit with in the first round. It will once again enforce Trump’s reputation as a sexual predator and may cost him some votes from people who have not completely lost their minds.


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