Timing is everything in three key Trump trials – National & International News – FRI 1Mar2024


Timing is everything in three key Trump trials.

Thousands of cattle perish in Texas wildfires.

Timing is everything in three key Trump trials

There were several important developments this week in three cases against former President Donald Trump. These developments could affect the timing of any potential trials and possibly move them beyond the November election. While Trump’s defense strategy from the beginning has been delay, delay, delay, it’s not entirely clear whether delaying the start of these trials will hurt or help him. If some of these proceedings wind up beginning immediately before the election, it could make for some unflattering headlines for Trump as his campaign is in the final stretch. Polls have found that voters are less likely to back Trump if he has a criminal conviction by November.

The Georgia election interference case

Closing arguments were heard today in an evidentiary hearing tied to the election interference and racketeering trial against Trump and 17 codefendants in Georgia. Judge Scott McAfee called the hearing to examine allegations against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the case.

One of Trump’s codefendants accused Willis of profiting from the prosecution of the case by hiring her lover as lead prosecutor. The prosecutor, Nathan Wade, and Willis took several romantic trips together. The key questions centered on whether Willis reimbursed Wade for travel arrangements that he paid for, and also whether the two were already in a relationship when Willis hired Wade to prosecute the case. Wade testified that Willis had reimbursed him, in cash, but could not produce any evidence to support his claims. One of the witnesses who had claimed initially that Willis and Wade’s relationship pre-dated Wade’s hiring in the Trump case later backtracked and said that the claim was based on speculation.

Judge McAfee says he will decide the outcome of this hearing in two weeks. If McAfee does decide there’s a conflict of interest, he could remove Willis, and possibly her entire office, from the case. This would require appointing a special prosecutor to the case, which could take months or even more than a year. That would, of course, mean that the case will be unlikely to come to trial before the November election. If Trump wins a second term, the trial could move ahead while he is in office.

The classified documents case

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon said today that she believes it is “unrealistic” that a trial over Trump’s mishandling and hoarding of classified documents could being in July as federal prosecutors hope. Cannon, a Trump appointee, has previously been criticized by fellow federal jurists for rulings in the case seen as overly favorable to Trump.

Trump’s attorneys argued today that other trials moving ahead against Trump as well as key campaign activities like the Republican National Convention could conflict with the schedule for this trial, proposed by special counsel Jack Smith. Trump’s team argued that these scheduling conflicts would violate Trump’s 6th Amendment rights to be present at trial and his First Amendment rights to run for President. 

If the case does take place before the election, Trump’s team asked for a later start date of August 12. However, this timing would present similar scheduling conflicts and a lot of negative press for Trump in the final weeks of the campaign, which Trump’s attorneys insist would eb “unfair”. Smith’s office insists their schedule is still workable and is pressing for a verdict before the election.

The Jan. 6 case

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Trump’s claim of Presidential immunity in the case covering his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Trump’s attorneys have argued that, as President, Trump enjoyed absolute immunity from prosecution for any action that could be construed as being connected in any way to his official duties. 

The trial was initially scheduled to begin March 4 but has been repeatedly postponed as Trump filed legal challenges as a delaying tactic. The Supreme Court Justices have agreed to hear the immunity claim on an “expedited” basis, with arguments taking place in April. It’s not clear when the Justices would rule, but it could potentially be as late as the end of June. 

Assuming the Court rules that a criminal trial can go ahead in the case, this will leave a pretty tight timeline to get the trial underway and get a verdict before the election. Even if Jack Smith, who is also prosecuting this case, is ready to go to trial, scheduling will be subject to the same delaying tactics by Trump’s lawyers as the classified documents case. 


Thousands of cattle perish in Texas wildfires

Wildfires that have taken hold this week in the Texas panhandle have scorched over 1 million acres of land, destroyed over 500 structures and killed at least two people. One of these blazes, the Smokehouse Creek fire, is the largest wildfire in the state’s history. 

The fires have also killed and horribly maimed several thousand cattle in the region known for its prime grassland and sprawling ranches. Yesterday, Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller estimated that around 10,000 cattle will have been killed or will have to be euthanized. “It’s sad. A lot of those cattle are still alive but the hooves are burned off, the teats on their udders are burned off. It’s just a sad, sad situation”. 

Desperate farmers have had to scramble to save themselves and as many of their animals as they could. It will take a while for the impacts to ranchers’ livelihoods to recover given the massive environmental impact and damage to infrastructure.

There may be worse news to come as these fires remain uncontrolled and continue to spread. The weekend is expected to bring hot, windy weather that will further feed and fan the flames.


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