Sometimes you’re right even when you don’t want to be. This is one of those times.
Back in June, while reporting on the reported indictment of Donald Trump in the classified documents case, I had supposed that the DOJ waited so long to charge the former president in order to maximize the political damage it would cause.
The DOJ is about to do what many feared and predicted (including myself), which is to wait around to indict Trump so that the trial takes place after he’s already possibly gained the Republican nomination. Given that a conviction would then be probable (especially if the case is tried in an unfriendly jurisdiction), this could turn out to be the biggest example of election interference in American history. It’s unconscionable, no matter what one thinks of the general merits of the case.
Well, Judge Aileen Cannon has set a new trial date in that case against Trump following requests from his team to delay. It will now take place on May 20th, 2024.
BREAKING: Judge Cannon sets Trump trial date for May 20, 2024
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) July 21, 2023
For any of you that have followed presidential campaigns before, you know why that date is bad news for Republicans. It puts Trump’s trial after the bulk of the state primaries and just a few months before the general election campaign beings. That means that most GOP primary voters won’t know the status of Trump’s legal issues before they have to cast their vote.
By contrast, barring some lengthy delay (unlikely given Cannon has now denied the Trump team’s request to push the trial until after the election), everyone will know the result of Trump’s legal issues, including the heavy possibility of him actually being in jail (or under house arrest at Mar-a-Lago), by the time the general election rolls around. In other words, The DOJ timed this perfectly to cause maximum interference in the election.
The date of the trial represents the best of both worlds as far as Democrats are concerned. The indictments themselves have juiced the candidate they’ve openly expressed they want to run against and frame the race around. Meanwhile, if that leads to Trump being nominated, as most suspect, Biden then gets to face a mortally wounded opponent.
Further, because of the nature of the case, Trump’s coming indictment regarding January 6th will likely be tried in the same gap between the bulk of the primary and the general election. If he’s convicted in that trial, depending on the specific charges brought, the former president could be legally barred from even being on the ballot. In that situation, Biden would run essentially unopposed.
Lastly, if those trials take place before the Republican National Convention, which is expected at this point given Cannon’s decision, Republicans could have an all-out civil war on the floor regardless of the primary results, fracturing the party and dooming the GOP on election day.
Unfortunately, I don’t see how Republicans escape this buzzsaw, at least not given current attitudes within the party. Any suggestion that someone else be the nominee (even if one truly believes someone else is a better candidate) is met with accusations of giving into the deep state no matter what evidence does or doesn’t exist. On the other hand, the road the GOP is currently on makes it almost certain Joe Biden will win another term, which would be the ultimate act of giving into the deep state. Rock, meet hard place.
My position remains the same on this. You should vote for who you think has the best chance to win the general and who will deliver on the most policy positions you support. Everything else is just noise. If you truly believe what I just described is Donald Trump, then vote for him in the primary. If you truly believe another candidate is a better choice in the current environment, then vote for that person.
What you should not do is vote for a candidate out of some misguided notion that you are going to teach the deep state a lesson by protest voting. That should not be your motivation. Winning in 2024 is all that should matter, whatever that takes.