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Trump Legal News: Eight Days a Week

Maybe the rest of the world of politics takes time off over the weekend, but the Donald Trump legal train is in perpetual motion, kind of like the one in Snowpiercer. There was significant news out of two different states yesterday, namely Florida and Georgia.

We'll start in the Sunshine State, since that news is more straightforward. As promised, Judge Aileen Cannon issued an order covering the timing of Trump's Mar-a-Lago classified documents trial. It says that the trial will begin sometime in the 2-week window commencing May 20, 2024. Mathematically, that choice is somewhat Solomon-like, in that it splits the difference, scheduling things roughly 6 months after what Special Counsel Jack Smith wanted and roughly 6 months before what Trump wanted.

In practice, however, that's about the worst timing possible from the perspective of Trump and the Republican Party. The trial would commence after most or all of the primaries, and would likely conclude shortly before the Republican National Convention, scheduled for July 15-18. The Party could literally find out just days before making a nomination that the choice of the rank-and-file is a convicted felon. What on earth would the GOP do in that circumstance? It's not like the primary voters wouldn't know this was a possibility. The Convention would probably have to stick with him.

It is, of course, possible that there will be further delays. If so, we won't have to wait until next May to find out. The Judge's order lays out a detailed schedule for all pre-trial business; it takes up more than two of the seven pages. So, it will be clear by the start of the new year, if not sooner, whether or not things are on track. It's also worth noting that this schedule leaves plenty of room for other trials, ones that might not involve complicated security clearances and the like.

And that brings us to Georgia. We often get questions about why Fulton County DA Fani Willis hasn't brought charges yet, since she implied months ago that an indictment was imminent. New reporting from The Guardian, assuming it is correct, would seem to answer that question: Willis is preparing a racketeering case.

Racketeering was always a possibility, and we (and others) noted it several times last year. It's not a simple case to make, hence all the extra time, but the statutes are written in such a way that it's easier to secure convictions for multiple, complementary crimes, while imposing a harsh sentence. The two complementary crimes that Willis is pursuing, per The Guardian, are: (1) influencing witnesses and (2) computer trespass (which includes things like breaching voting machines). Significantly, for a racketeering conviction, Trump does not have to have committed the criminal acts himself, he just has to be part of an "enterprise" that committed the criminal acts. Remember that the crime of racketeering was first put on the books to allow the government to go after mafia kingpins who use intermediaries to do the dirty work.

Team Trump, for its part, is still trying to get Willis' investigation quashed. Inasmuch as the 200-plus-page motion on that point that was filed last week took a grand total of 4 hours to be rejected by the all-Republican Georgia Supreme Court, the former president is back this week with a 600-plus-page motion, once again filed late Friday night. Will it take the Georgia supremes 12 hours to kick this one, since it's three times longer? Maybe. If we were on the Georgia Court, we would issue an order that says: "NO!" and be done with it.

So, big news despite the weekend. There will be much talk on the Sunday news shows, and probably reaction pieces on Monday, which we'll aggregate if they seem useful. (Z)

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