Trump cases heat up as majority in poll turn against him

Trump cases heat up as majority in poll turn against him

Jack Smith (Peter Dejong/AP), Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

WASHINGTON—Though the criminal trials of Donald Trump won’t start for a while, case developments—in D.C., Florida and Georgia—are heating up. And in one of them, the former Oval Office occupant, contrary to his lawyers’ bleating, has already signed an official affidavit promising, in so many words, to not discuss the top D.C. case, with witnesses and outsiders.

Meanwhile, 51% of respondents to a CBS News/YouGov national poll agree Trump “tried to stay in office by illegal means,” while 29%–Trump’s MAGAites—declared Trump tried to stay in office legally. The rest said he didn’t try to stay in office.

And even more, 54%, told surveyors if the former Oval Office occupant “tried to overturn the election,” that “would be undermining democracy,” while 17% said it would not.  The rest said “neither.” The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

All these developments, and more, are preludes to trying Trump for his Jan. 6, 2021, coup d’état attempt and conspiracies to negate his 2020 election loss, thus negating the U.S. Constitution. And Trump said in December he would void parts of the Constitution to regain and retain the White House.

The trials themselves, which will be the most momentous criminal trials in U.S. history, marking the first time a White House denizen, past or present, has been publicly charged with crimes that could, if convicted, land him in jail. Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges in both D.C. and Florida, is pushing for early trials—this January in the Jan. 6 coup case.

They also come as Trump, on the campaign trail for his third run at the Oval Office in 12 years, keeps making inflammatory statements about “election fraud” in the 2020 balloting and insulting the judges, prosecutors and the entire criminal justice system while painting himself as the wronged victim.

Key developments in the cases include:

  • Federal District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida, whom Trump named to the bench demanded Smith’s federal prosecutors explain why they convened grand juries in both Florida and D.C. in the case she’s handling.

Cannon is tackling the case of Trump’s purloining of top-secret papers, including a plan for war on Iran, from the White House to his Mar-A-Lago estate and his Bedminster, N.J., golf club. At the golf club, Trump actually brandished the war plan before four people, including two aides.

News reports said Smith is concerned about conflicts of interest involving Stanley Woodward, lawyer for Trump’s top co-defendant in the purloined papers case, Walt Nauta. Smith’s prosecutors told Cannon last week the grand juries in both states would continue to sit, “to investigate further obstructive activity” by Trump.

  • Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors will clash in U.S. District Court in D.C. on August 11 on whether Judge Tanya Chutkan should order Trump, and his lawyers, to keep evidence prosecutors by law must turn over to them under wraps. Chutkan will handle the trial of Trump on the constitutional charges around the Jan. 6, 2021 invasion, insurrection and coup d’état try.
  • Trump signed an official court document on August 5, promising not to contact witnesses in the case. That affidavit orders the defendant—Trump—to among other things, “avoid all contact, directly or indirectly, with any person who is or may be a victim or witness in the prosecution.”

An accompanying document, entitled “Advice on penalties and sanctions,” says that if Trump breaks the terms, he faces up to a decade in jail, a $250,000 fine, or both.

  • Trump’s top campaign officials, separate from his legal team which pushed the scheme, did not believe his “fake electors” plan to substitute Trump electors in seven states Democratic nominee Joe Biden won, would succeed.

The Washington Post reported, after interviewing top Republican officials in the seven states that fake electors in two of them, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, had their doubts, too.

The Pennsylvanians and New Mexicans insisted on adding a clause to their “electoral certificates” saying those were valid only if Trump definitively won court cases overthrowing those states’ popular votes. Trump went 1-for-62 in state court election challenge cases, and one win was on a technical issue, not the substance of the case, in Pennsylvania.

In the other five states—Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia—the electors signed the certificates but without the qualifying language. That’s led Michigan’s Attorney General to charge all 16 fake Trump electors there with forgery and other felonies.

  • Fulton County (Atlanta) DA Fani Willis, who is probing the fake electors scheme in Georgia, called in the reporter who first published the names of the fake Republican electors there to testify. She’s also given immunity from prosecution to eight of the 16 Republican fake electors there, in return for testimony in her investigation.

Willis is reportedly planning to use the state’s very broad racketeering statute for prosecution, with potential targets including Trump and his consigliere, disbarred attorney Rudy Giuliani, who flatly lied to the Georgia legislature, in an open hearing, claiming vote fraud there.

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Mark Gruenberg


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