With the (entire) media now constantly portraying Donald Trump as if he were going to be an actual 2024 candidate, it’s more important than ever that the public be reminded that Trump is instead a criminal defendant who’s about to stand criminal trial in three jurisdictions, and will be in prison before the 2024 election even gets serious.
Moreover, even before Trump starts getting convicted at his criminal trials, the judges involved are going to thoroughly own him. For instance, the judge in the Manhattan criminal case issued a protective order this week barring Trump from revealing any of the privileged evidence in the case. Now the judge is ordering Trump to attend a lecture on what this protective order specifically means.
The point of this lecture is so that if Trump does go on to violate the protective order, he won’t be able to claim that he didn’t realize he was violating it. After all, he’ll have taken a court ordered class on specifically how to comply with it. And if Trump does decide to violate the order, the judge can (and will) respond with incremental but escalating penalties that would eventually build up to Trump being tossed in a cell while awaiting trial.
To be clear, Trump has no recourse when it comes to any of this. If he skips the class, the judge will haul him in the next day. If he violates the protective order, the judge will start handing down increasingly painful penalties until Trump stops violating it. And if Trump doesn’t like any of it, the only thing he can do is appeal the judge’s penalties to the appeals court, which would reject his claims, and wouldn’t result in any delays in the case.
In other words, the judge in the Manhattan criminal case already owns Donald Trump. Keep in mind that the criminal charges against Trump in New York are among the least serious he’s going to face, and New York law is among the most defendant-friendly in terms of what the judge can do to him.
Once Trump is indicted by the DOJ, the federal judge assigned to the case will own Trump far more thoroughly. For instance, when George Santos was indicted by the DOJ for financial fraud this week, the judge in the case seized his passport, restricted his travel to New York and Washington DC, and put random monitoring in place. When the DOJ indicts Trump, it’ll be for financial fraud plus far more serious charges, so the judge in the case will likely hit Trump with pretrial restrictions that are at least that severe. This is all just getting started.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report