Donald Trump will be indicted but not sent to prison

David Pakman
Liberal Opinion

David Pakman

Host of The David Pakman Show
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Many legal experts believe the Justice Department is getting close to indicting former President Donald Trump for taking – and attempting to conceal – classified documents when he left office in January 2021. Trump claims he de-classified those documents, but the government’s search warrant suggests law enforcement is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice charges in violation of the Espionage Act. Prosecutors claim they tried for more than a year to retrieve the more than 300 classified documents that were missing from the National Archives since Trump left office.

Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman analyzes the chances Trump will be indicted and sent to prison. 

Is Donald Trump ever going to see the inside of a prison cell? I believe the answer is no. And there are two analyses. Let’s first talk about the legal one, the criminal justice analysis, and then we’ll talk about the logistical one.

Whatever Trump is charged with, I think, is almost certainly going to be on the lower end of the seriousness spectrum of what he could be charged with to begin with. 

Most charges don’t go to a trial. They end in some kind of plea. And almost certainly, I think we are going to end up with less serious charges than what could be and the plea that doesn’t include any prison time or jail time. 

I think the most serious thing that might come out of it would be Trump agreeing not to run for federal office again, maybe. But I don’t believe any plea is going to include any prison or jail time. I just don’t see it. 

So then we get to the logistical point. Imagine that Trump actually is indicted. There is no plea. It goes to trial, you somehow find a jury that is considered an impartial jury, which is so difficult given who Trump is, and you get a guilty verdict. And you get a sentence that includes prison. I mean, we’re already six steps in. Imagine that you get all that? 

As much as I think Trump was a disastrous president, I have to acknowledge that as someone who is entitled to Secret Service protection for the rest of his life, as Trump is, there is no practical way to put Trump in prison. 

Now I know you might say, well, but David, they could put him in prison in total isolation, and then he would be safe. Would he? I mean, I think Secret Service protection even extends to protecting Trump from prison guards – corrections officers – I think they are more politely called. 

So I don’t see any way that even if Trump were sentenced, he serves the sentence in an actual facility. I think it’s an ankle monitor in one of his many homes. That’s the bottom line. And I know a lot of people will be disappointed if that happens.

If you think I’m wrong about that, then I want to hear from you. But if you ask me the most likely totality of the circumstances expectation outcome, it’s indictment. Absolutely. I would bet on an indictment. And I would bet not a single day behind bars.

 

 

So what do we think is going to ultimately happen with Donald Trump and these criminal investigations? The long story short, from my perspective, is Trump will be indicted, but he will see absolutely no jail or prison time of any kind. 

Now, there’s several layers to this analysis. And I think it’s important to go through each of them.

First and foremost, the raid search warrant at Mar-a-Lago – use whatever term you want – I think both terms, quite frankly, are probably appropriate. 

The raid at Mar-a-Lago has become a flashpoint of people saying, either this is an attempt to plant evidence to make him look guilty by rating or whatever on one side, we’ve seen the right throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, and others, who are involved in law enforcement, legal folks, etc, saying, you’re almost certainly going to get an indictment, because the standard and the preparation to do this to a former president is so high, FBI Director signing off, Attorney General signing off, judge signing off, etc., that you’ve got to be reasonably sure that you know what you are or aren’t going to find. 

And you’ve got to be reasonably sure it’s going to lead to charges because if it didn’t, if this happened with Trump, and no charges are ever filed, it will, I would argue, correctly set off a firestorm that the raid itself was merely politically motivated and not actually connected to criminality. 

Now, is it possible that you would do a raid, and then it actually turns out, we were wrong. We have nothing to charge him with. It’s possible. But we’re talking about a former president here. 

So my belief is, the raid was done and approved and requested, etc, with almost total certainty, that there’s a crime in there somewhere. And ultimately, I believe Donald Trump is going to be charged, we are told that the charges would not come until after the election. 

And there’s a number of reasons why that could be. It does take time to build a case. So we then get to the question many in my audience are interested in. Is Donald Trump ever going to see the inside of a prison cell? 

I believe the answer is no. And there are two analyses. Let’s first talk about the legal one, the criminal justice analysis, and then we’ll talk about the logistical one. Whatever Trump is charged with, I think, is almost certainly going to be on the lower end of the seriousness spectrum of what he could be charged with to begin with. 

Most charges don’t go to a trial. They end in some kind of plea. And almost certainly, I think we are going to end up with less serious charges than what could be and the plea that doesn’t include any prison time or jail time. 

I think the most serious thing that might come out of it would be Trump agreeing not to run for federal office again, maybe. But I don’t believe any plea is going to include any prison or jail time. I just don’t see it. 

So then we get to the logistical point. Imagine that Trump actually is indicted. There is no plea. It goes to trial, you somehow find a jury that is considered of an impartial jury, which is so difficult given who Trump is, and you get a guilty verdict.

And you get a sentence that includes prison. I mean, we’re already six steps in. Imagine that you get all that? 

As much as I think Trump was a disastrous President, I have to acknowledge that as someone who is entitled to Secret Service protection for the rest of his life, as Trump is, there is no practical way to put Trump in prison. 

Now I know you might say, well, but David, they could put him in prison in total isolation, and then he would be safe. Would he?

I mean, I think Secret Service protection even extends to protect protecting Trump from prison guards, corrections officers is I think they are more politely called. 

So I don’t see any way that even if Trump were sentenced, he serves the sentence in an actual facility. I think it’s ankle monitor in one of his many homes. That’s the bottom line. And I know a lot of people will be disappointed if that happens.

If you think I’m wrong about that, then I want to hear from you. But if you ask me the most likely totality of the circumstances expectation outcome, it’s indictment. Absolutely. I would bet on an indictment. And I would bet not a single day behind bars.

Last thing on this, there’s folks hoping for a perp walk situation where Trump is cuffed and booked and then out on bail. Almost certainly won’t happen when you’ve got a president with Secret Service protection, former president with Secret Service protection.

It would all be arranged and coordinated. The perp walk would be avoided for sure. Some will find this disappointing but let me know what you think.

 


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