Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have so much going wrong for them right now, individually and collectively, it can be difficult to keep track. Trump is being impeached. Rudy is under federal criminal investigation. Trump’s political scandals keep getting worse. Rudy is turning into Dracula. The list goes on. In fact these two guys have so much trouble facing them right now, it’s easy to lose track of arguably the single biggest piece of news concerning either of them.
Last night we confirmation by way of Reuters that a federal grand jury has been sending out subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani’s associates, demanding that they turn over their communications with him, and their records of doing business with him. This means, in no uncertain terms, that the grand jury is targeting Rudy for indictment. In other words, he’s going to be charged and arrested.
Last night we saw the latest reminder, by way of CNN, that a New York grand jury is targeting Donald Trump for criminal indictment on state charges. This grand jury has been well-documented, and in fact the escalating court battle over Trump’s tax returns was triggered partially by the grand jury’s attempt at obtaining them.
Under the law, grand juries only have one purpose: to indict people. When prosecutors ask for an indictment, grand juries return an indictment the vast majority of the time. This means that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are almost certainly going to be indicted. This is not in dispute, and it’s important that everyone involved understands that this is happening, because it’ll play a major role in what comes next.
For instance, we have no way of knowing if New York will opt to indict Donald Trump before or after the election. There is no state-level rule against indicting a sitting president, but we don’t know what New York is planning. We can almost surely expect the federal grand jury to indict Rudy Giuliani before the election, because there would be no reason to drag out the grand jury process for what would be another year.
Donald Trump can try to pardon Rudy Giuliani on the federal charges. The courts would end up having to decide if a president can pardon his own alleged criminal co-conspirators, and that battle could go on for years. In the meantime, if Trump pardons Rudy, it could create the kind of backlash from moderate voters that could finish off whatever slim chance Trump has left in 2020. That said, Rudy keeps publicly hinting that he has “insurance” in case Trump doesn’t save him, so Trump may be facing a no-win choice.
On the other hand, the eventual state level charges against Donald Trump cannot be pardoned by any current or future president; only the Governor of New York could do that, which absolutely won’t happen as long as a Democrat remains the Governor. In other words, Trump is going to prison. We just don’t know if New York will indict him before or after the election – and if it comes before the election, there’s no precedent for whether he could be arrested and/or put on trial while still in office. These grand jury stories are not getting much airtime right now, but they could eventually end up being the whole ballgame.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report