Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Willis' Actions Suggest There Will Be Charges Filed in August

This could be the biggie. If Donald Trump is convicted in New York by Alvin Bragg, many people will see it as a dumb accounting mistake and nothing more. After all, if his campaign had directly paid Stormy Daniels from its own money and fully reported it as "services rendered for helping the campaign," it would almost certainly have been legal. Paying her to keep quiet was not a crime. It was the incorrect reporting that was the crime. Similarly, many people are not going to understand why a former president can be charged with holding classified documents when he finally gave them back (well, the FBI took them back). Again, here, the politics are different from the law. The insurrection case Jack Smith may bring is tricky since it hinges on whether giving a speech telling people to go to the Capitol is insurrection.

But the Georgia case Fulton County DA Fani Willis is looking at is crystal clear. Willis is very likely going to indict Trump for trying to intimidate state officials into reversing an election he lost. That is something people can understand. Also, unlike the two likely federal cases, there is no possibility of Trump pardoning himself if he is convicted. Only the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles can pardon people for violations of Georgia law. Presidents can only pardon people who commit (or are planning to commit) federal crimes. For these reasons, a conviction in Georgia might well do the most damage to Trump, both because the crimes are clear (multiple statutes are likely to be cited in an indictment) and Trump can't campaign on "Vote for me so I can pardon myself."

Consequently, all eyes are on Willis. Specifically, she has asked judges in downtown Atlanta not to schedule any trials from August 7 to August 20. She also told most of her staff to work from home in that period. For the ones who will have to work in the office then, she ordered bullet-proof vests for them. She clearly wants to protect her staff from a potential firestorm. She also warned Georgia law enforcement to be ready for trouble.

The Georgia grand jury that would formally bring indictments has a term from July 11 to September 1. Any indictments it issues would come in that period, but now Willis has narrowed the window to 2 weeks in the middle of August. There is no way in the world she would tell judges to clear their dockets, buy bullet-proof vests for her staff, and tell law enforcement to get ready for trouble unless she was planning multiple high-profile indictments. So, we're going to go out all the way on a limb here and predict that she is going to indict Donald Trump for one or more Georgia crimes. We are also going halfway out on the limb and predict that she is also going to indict Rudy Giuliani for something or other, probably committing perjury when he addressed the state legislature. There are likely more indictments as well (possible for those fake electors who did not make a deal with her). If there is going to be only one indictment, there would be no reason to ask all the judges to clear their dockets for 2 whole weeks. That request suggests that one or more judges is going to have plenty of work to do in August.

Of course, it may not be the case that she will bring so many indictments that all the judges will be working until midnight for 2 solid weeks. It could be that she made this request for security reasons. That way nobody except herself and a couple of staff members will know when the axe is going to fall and no ordinary defendants will be around if all hell breaks loose when she indicts Trump. That seems more likely to us than that she is going indict 100 people.

Trump's lawyers are no doubt already preparing motions for the judge to throw the case out. Good luck with that. It is hard to imagine a more solid case for someone trying to interfere with an election. She has interviewed all three people present in the room when Trump made his infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and she has the recording of the call itself. No judge is going to dismiss the case out of hand. And remember, it will be a state judge appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) or one of his predecessors. It won't be a Trump appointee since presidents don't appoint state judges.

In case you were planning to hike the Appalachian Trail in mid August, you are likely to miss all the action. We're told the Trail is also lovely in September. You might want to reschedule your plans. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates