When it was revealed last night that the Manhattan District Attorney is empaneling a special grand jury for the next six months to bring indictments in relation to the criminal investigation into Donald Trump, this led a number of observers to believe that Trump won’t be indicted for another six months. But that’s a misunderstanding of the process.
By setting a six month timeframe, what the DA is actually saying is that he fully expects the entire indictment process – including any superseding indictments and anyone who gets indicted after Trump – to take no more than six months. So what are we really looking at?
It’s unlikely that Donald Trump will be the first person to be indicted by this grand jury. Allen Weisselberg seems to be in prime position for that. But Trump may not be the last person to be indicted, either. For instance, if Trump’s kids are indicted, that could come before or after Trump is indicted, depending on how the DA is structuring the cases against each of them. For instance, if Trump is being charged with the underlying crimes and his kids are merely being charged with conspiring with him, Trump’s crimes would need to be established before the conspiracy charges would happen.
There is also the possibility that Trump will be indicted and arrested on some straightforward charges sooner, and other more complex charges later, by this same grand jury. These kinds of superseding indictments are fairly common when dealing with a multifaceted crime spree. When people like Paul Manafort or Joel Greenberg have gotten hit with dozens of felony indictment counts, it’s never happened all at once. The charges keep getting piled on.
It would be a fool’s errand to try to guess precisely where in this six month span Trump will be indicted and arrested. But anyone saying it’s going to take six months, just because the grand jury is empaneled for up to six months, is fundamentally misunderstanding the process.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report