As we begin 2023, the future holds many uncertainties for Donald J. Trump. While no one knows his fate for certain, here’s how I see what’s coming for the former president and America’s number one grifter.
Donald Trump will be indicted before this coming summer. In my view, Special Counsel Jack Smith was hired by Attorney General Merrick Garland to prosecute the case against Trump, not to close it. Garland believed that putting Smith, someone outside the Justice Department, in charge of the case would make the prosecution less political. Whether that turns out to be the case remains to be seen and, in fact, may be irrelevant at this point.
Just this past week, Smith hired two seasoned attorneys who “have prosecuted some of the most high-profile public corruption targets of both political parties in recent years.” Those targets included former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, current New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and former presidential candidate Democratic Sen. John Edwards.
If Smith thought that the DOJ didn’t have the evidence to indict Trump, he wouldn’t now be hiring prosecutors experienced in handling complex public corruption cases. As a former New Mexico Department of Education prosecuting attorney, I know that prosecutors do not bring charges unless they are convinced that they have the evidence needed to convict. That would be especially true in the case of a former president.
Last November two reports by veteran prosecutors and top legal experts analyzed two criminal investigations into Trump. One involved Trump’s solicitation to commit election fraud including a call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes. In total, that report finds at least 11 charges that could be filed against Trump resulting from his efforts in Georgia. The other report explored the mishandling of sensitive government documents at Mar-a-Lago. Both reports concluded that “there is enough evidence to bring charges against the former president.”
As a result, I believe Trump will be tried and convicted by the end of this year. His trial cannot be allowed to cloud the 2024 presidential primary season.
It’s difficult to predict the sentence Trump will receive for his crimes. A friend of mine recently suggested Trump would be placed under house arrest but would not have to serve any jail time. That would be letting Trump off way too easy for attempting to overthrow our government. I don’t believe a federal judge would be so lenient for such appalling crimes, especially by a former president. At the least, Trump will receive a multi-year suspended sentence, which would put him on strict probation, though I feel he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Whatever the sentence, Trump is sure to appeal. Ultimately, his fate will lie in the hands of the Supreme Court, ironically including the three justices he appointed to the Court. I’m thinking that at least five justices will have the decency and integrity to uphold his conviction and sentence.
Finally, there’s Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. Assuming he is convicted, Trump’s sentence must include invoking the 14th Amendment provision preventing any person from ever again holding public office who having previously “taken an oath…as an officer of the United States… to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
On the other hand, if Trump somehow avoids prosecution or is found not guilty, he still will not be elected president in 2024. The results of the 2020 and 2022 elections clearly demonstrated that Trump and his handpicked candidates are losers. The Republican Party hates losers. Trump’s base is shrinking and will continue to do so as more and more evidence of his misdeeds are revealed to the public during his likely unprecedented nationally televised trial.
In any event, Trump’s days are numbered.
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
P.S. I want to take this opportunity to again thank my partner, Margaret Lubalin, for another year of suburb editing of my blog. She’s the best.
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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