Elie Honig, a senior legal analyst for CNN, has been a constant presence on air, dissecting the numerous allegations made against former President Donald Trump. He has the necessary qualifications for the position: In his latest book, Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away with It, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Honig investigates how individuals such as Donald Trump are able to avoid responsibility.
Now, it appears that Trump is in trouble with the law. The former president is charged with 91 crimes in four separate indictments; if found guilty on all counts, he would be sentenced to 712 years in prison.
Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that Trump will ever enter a prison chamber. Honig and Mediaite editor-in-chief Aidan McLaughlin discussed this issue in depth on the most recent episode of The Interview podcast.
“Trump deserves to be indicted,” Honig said. “Let’s start with that.”
“Is he going to actually go to prison, is a lot of people’s question,” Honig said. He explained:
He has to be convicted, which could well happen. I actually think it’s quite possible. Then he has to be sentenced to prison, which I think in any of those three cases [excluding the New York indictment] is likely. Then, though, if he wins the election, forget it. If he wins the election, he’ll throw out the DOJ cases, he’ll pardon himself.
Honig stated that because the Georgia allegation is a state case and Trump cannot dismiss it or exonerate himself, “they cannot try him while he is president.”
Honig stated that trying Trump as president would be analogous to if a “Sussex County, New Jersey prosecutor tried to put Joe Biden on trial right now,” despite the fact that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is merely “a county level prosecutor.”
“That would never happen,” he said. “I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, constitutionally, we don’t know.’ I’m sorry. My legal analysis on this one boils down to: That ain’t happening.”
Honig predicted that the Justice Department of Trump will end the federal cases: “The DOJ indictments get dismissed, and/or he’ll try to pardon himself.”
“We don’t know if that’s legal or not, but the problem is the only way to challenge a self-pardon is DOJ has to indict him and then litigate. It’s going to be his DOJ,” he explained. “I guess theoretically he could be charged, he could be tried in New York and Georgia in 2029. But, I mean, if that’s what we’re waiting for, you know, I’m not going to hold my breath. He’ll be 80-whatever, two, and the conduct will be a decade old.”
Honig also indicated that Biden may decide to commute Trump’s sentence if he loses the 2024 presidential election and is subsequently sentenced to prison. Honig asserted that if Joe Biden were to win a second term at the age of 84 or 85, he might refuse to pardon Donald Trump and state that the “conviction stands for history,” but add, “I don’t think we need him to go to prison. I beat him twice in an election, let’s move on.’”
In the end, Honig argued, Trump will not “get locked up before the election, no matter what,” because even if he is found guilty and given a prison sentence prior to the election, “he will almost certainly get bail pending appeal,” which means the judge will rule that he does not have to begin serving his sentence until he has exhausted and lost all appeals.
According to Honig, the process would still require at least one to 18 months, even if accelerated.
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