I’ve been asked whether Donald Trump’s seditious post-election behavior will increase the odds that he ultimately pays a price for all of this. That’s a good question, and the answer comes in two parts.
First, Trump is already just about a lock for prison in New York State on financial charges, which nearly always result in a conviction. It’s possible that in response to Trump’s worsening behavior, New York could decide to indict Trump sooner than it was otherwise planning. But if Trump is indicted while he’s still in office, will this scare him into toning down his antics, or cause him to panic and ramp up his antics? That’s something New York would have to consider.
Second, there is the ongoing question of federal charges. Because Trump will try to pardon himself and that self-pardon will take time to get thrown out in court, there could be a significant delay before the DOJ even legally has the option of federally charging Trump. By that time he could already be in state prison, making the charges more symbolic than anything. But Trump’s worsening antics could leave America with the kind of lasting bad taste that ultimately demands federal criminal charges once they’re an option.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report