The Arrest of Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump is expected to surrender for his arraignment in New York tomorrow. What is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case, how will it impact Trump’s presidential primary campaign, and is this just the beginning of his legal woes? Andy speaks with law professor Jessica Levinson and Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake about what we know, what we hope to find out this week, and how the American people are reacting.
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Andy Slavitt, Jessica Levinson, Aaron Blake
Andy Slavitt 00:18
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donald Trump was indicted last week, and Donald Trump is going to be arrested tomorrow. I know we all start thinking about those facts, from an overlay of our experience with Donald Trump and our pre-existing perspectives on Donald Trump. You will either hear this and the facts that roll out over the next few days, as this is a guy who’s guilty, and he is guilty of lots of things. He’s being prosecuted for lots of things. It’s hard to make many things stick. And this just may be the case, but we have no doubt that this is a man that deserves some accountability. Or your perspective is Donald Trump is being persecuted. And there are a lot of people that could look at the same set of facts and say this is not evidence of a man who’s guilty. But this is evidence of a man who, you know, may be untraditional, but he’s being consistently and constantly persecuted. Those perspectives, as we’ll talk about in a moment with our guests are unlikely to be changed by what happens next. But the overlay here, it’s really interesting questions. Number one, what is the Attorney General Bragg’s case? What is the case? Another overlay is we’ve got a Republican primary going on. What is the impact both on Trump? And on the other candidates that are seeking to knock him off? What’s the impact on other cases? There are several of them in Georgia, with the document that Mara Lago with the January sixth little Capitol tour that he sponsored. What’s the public view? What is the public thinking about a case like this? And ultimately, what is his legal liability? Could he end up facing real consequences of a crime like this if he’s convicted? I want I’m trying to bring this topic to you with balance, not with too much of an edge towards leaving on Trump being guilty of everything or Trump being persecuted for everything only because I know you all have a perspective. I happen to have a perspective. But I think yeah, that will inform us more to understand what’s going on here in light of those questions I just went through, but I will tell you what I think I think that everybody already knows what happened here. I don’t think anybody whether they’re a supporter of Trump, a defender of Trump, or a critic of Trump believes he did not sleep with stormy Daniels, and did not try to pay her hush money. I he’ll he denies it. Of course, he denies it. But I think if you’re a defender of Trump, you say, of course, he would deny something like that. Who wouldn’t? But there’s not a lot of evidence that people really care. There are plenty of cases where people have illicit relationships outside of their marriage in politics. And the public doesn’t always get super exercised about them, rightly or wrongly. But I think people have decided already that question. I don’t know that we will learn a lot in this case. Even if we hear definitively that Donald Trump paid off Stormy Daniels, that that’s going to change a lot of people’s perspective. And I don’t think this case automatically necessarily hurts him. Certainly, I don’t think it hurts him politically. And it may get to him legally, criminally. But, you know, it may not. And I think we know that this is a man to put it in my own words, without a lot of shame. That someone who when being called out for doing something bad feels that and demonstrates that he feels that and changes his behavior and in fact, will likely view this as an opportunity to go further on offense against his critics and I’d be happy Have some people say of his supporters. So Jessica Levinson is with us today. She is a law professor, political commentator. She’s got a great podcast called passing judgment. She teaches at Loyola law school. And she’s given us in the past a great summary of all the cases against Trump, where they stand. And she will be on the show. And then joining us midway through the podcast I have a special treat is Aaron Blake, who really, really know is a senior politics reporter at The Washington Post. He’s also from Minnesota and has written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Hill newspaper for those of you from Minnesota. We’re gonna have two of the better people you could possibly imagine, to talk about this in a way that I think will further our understanding of what we’re about to witness in the next week, here they are.
Andy Slavitt 06:09
Jessica, welcome back to the bubble.
Jessica Levinson 06:12
Andy Slavitt 06:14
So we had to on last year to talk about cases pending against Trump elect, there’s a lot of people who, who have said for quite some time, understandably, nothing sticks to this guy. He’s unlikely to be indicted. I want to go into some of those questions with you. But I’m hoping you could maybe just start by telling us what’s likely to happen tomorrow, just kind of walk us through the day what we’re going to see happen with the former president?
Jessica Levinson 06:39
So these will be totally conventional steps. But they will happen in an unconventional way. Because this is a historic first, we have never had a former president be indicted before. So basically, the former president is going to have to turn himself in, he’s going to have to give his fingerprints likely electronically, he will have a picture meaning a mug shot. He will be arraigned, he will be made aware of the charges in court. But I think the rest of it is kind of in question because typically, the DA’s office doesn’t also have to talk to Secret Service, for instance, about how an arraignment will run. So I think it is fair to say that the former president will not be placed in custody while he’s waiting for an arraignment. That we will all be aware of safety and practical reasons why this won’t look typical. I don’t think that there will be a quote unquote perp walk. I don’t think that the former president will be handcuffed unless he wants to be. And the rest of the day I think will look somewhat different than usual. I think the former president will be released almost immediately on his own recognizance. We’re not talking about charges related to violent felonies here. And therefore I don’t think the former President will spend any time really in custody, leading up to a potential trial here.
Andy Slavitt 08:05
So what we’ll see is a man who flies a jet from Florida to New York, we’ll see him probably briefly on camera, maybe walking into a courtroom building. And then some short time afterwards, we’ll see him walking out, getting back in the car getting back on the plane, and then probably using social to, you know, to whatever he normally does is that and then we’ll see breathless around the clock, CNN coverage of all of that, that kind of?
Jessica Levinson 08:35
All of that is exactly right. There will be a kind of Dark Side of the Moon moment where the former President goes into the courthouse, and we don’t know exactly what’s happening when, and then he will reemerge and we will likely hear from him. And we will hear his particular spin on what just happened.
Andy Slavitt 08:53
Okay, so let’s talk about this prosecutor and the grand jury and the case a bit. Tell us about that. Tell us who Bragg is what he sees what the grand jury likely sees. And well, we don’t have actual charges yet about what we think this case will end up being like.
Jessica Levinson 09:09
So we have here with Alvin Bragg, a fairly new district attorney. He’s taken over the office and therefore these investigations. And I think what he’s really looking at as the main crime is the falsification of business records. And what do we mean by that? Well, we all know of course, Andy that Michael Cohen, the former president’s former attorney, and fixer made a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star to tell her to not tell her story of an alleged affair with the former president right before the 2016 election. Now in and of itself, a hush money payment is not illegal. But Michael Cohen actually served time in federal prison in part for that payment, because it was viewed as an illegal campaign contract. […] And he said individual one basically told me to make this payment, I made that payment at the direction of individual number one, who is individual number one, it’s the former president. And so where we enter this case is the former president then repaid Michael Cohen for that hush money payment in a number of installments. And he apparently incorrectly listed those payments as legal expenses. He also apparently said, even though there wasn’t a retainer agreement with Michael Cohen, that there was, and that’s where we get the basis of these claims, the falsification of business records.
Andy Slavitt 10:43
Which is normally a misdemeanor, correct?
Jessica Levinson 10:45
Exactly right. So Alvin Bragg, I think, in looking at this case, and in deciding to bring it has decided that this can be bumped up to a felony. And then Andy, you asked me, you know how this is a misdemeanor charge. So falsification of business records can be brought up to a felony, if the prosecution can show that Trump had the intent to commit another crime, or conceal another crime. And this is where we should pause for a moment and say proving intent is always difficult. And it’s likely to be quite difficult when it comes to the former president who, you know, sometimes speaks in code, he doesn’t reduce things to writing, he doesn’t send texts, he doesn’t send emails. But if you can, in fact, show the intent to commit or conceal another crime, then the legal question becomes, what other crimes? And I think we’ll find out tomorrow/
Andy Slavitt 11:38
And does a crime need to be a state crime? Or does it also apply if it’s a federal crime, like an election law crime?
Jessica Levinson 11:46
That is one of the legal questions and legal complexities in this case. So I think Andy brought us exactly to where we need to go next. Right, which is that fork in the road? So what is that additional crime that you’re going to hook for falsification of business records to? Now on the one hand, it could be a state crime that feels, I think, cleaner to people because this is a state prosecutor. And there’s a provision of the New York election code that talks about not entering into a conspiracy to basically try and unlawfully get somebody elected or defeated. So that’s potentially on the table. But the other fork in the road is the former president, of course, was a federal candidate. And Michael Cohen, as we just discussed, faced federal charges for these hush money payments. So there is a possibility that we’re talking about federal charges here, maybe federal campaign finance charges. And that’s also possibility. I will say, that’s a bit of a novel legal theory. And to get back to your question, Andy to me, I mean, those are the thresholds that the DEA is going to have to clear here having to prove intent, and then having to show a violation of either a state law claim or a federal law claim.
Andy Slavitt 13:04
Got it? Well, I want to do this, let’s take a quick break. And we got more to say here, but I want to have asked Aaron Blake, who’s a Washington Post reporter to join the conversation. So we can talk also about the political implications even as we lay out the case. So we’ll be right back. Alright, I’m back with Jessica and Aaron Blake has joined us from the Washington Post. So Aaron, big events tomorrow, we’ve got a formal arrest of a former president, just maybe look at a lens on this, which is that there are statements from Republicans that this prosecution is politically motivated. What elements of that do you find are substantive and what elements is defined are or not?
Aaron Blake 14:14
Well, it reminds me in a lot of ways about what happened eight months ago, after the search for classified documents at Mar a Lago. We did not have an affidavit, we didn’t really have any information back then. And what we saw was the party leaped to defend him and labeled as some kind of grave injustice, without us really knowing much of anything about what had happened here beyond the reporting about previous instances of contacts about these documents. I think in this case, it’s very similar. We maybe know a little bit more because we have seen a prosecution of Michael Cohen, we have seen, you know, the fact that the Justice Department reportedly declined to bring charges in this case. against the former president. So maybe there’s a little bit more to grab hold of. But there is just so much that we don’t know at this point, there’s no charges. There’s no, you don’t know what kind of evidence that Alvin Bragg might have beyond what has been reported publicly and revealed by Michael Cohen. And in his case, and so it just kind of opens the door to us learning something about this that people don’t know. And having those early defenses undercut a little bit. And so I think that’s, I think it’s a kind of a pretty remarkable statement of the Republican Party. And this is something I wrote about, which is that when Trump was talking about witch hunts very early in the Mueller investigation, this was something that rubbed Republicans the wrong way, they didn’t want to go down this road, they worried that, that this was not letting the process play out. They defended the legitimacy of the investigation, the Mueller investigation. And now we’re just skipping all over that into witch hunt political prosecution, political interference in the 2024 election, in a way that I think, you know, reflects a very much a progression that we’ve seen during the Trump years.
Andy Slavitt 16:06
Jessica, let’s talk about this potential evidence. Because, you know, I think the burden of proof is high here in prosecuting a former president, and we were just talking before Aaron joined us about how, you know, we’re going to learn more about what the evidence might be. But that on its face, this is not the easiest case to make, just because you got to make a couple of connections. And so I’m curious, do you think Bragg would bring a case that he did feel very, very certain he could win and didn’t have evidence that we probably don’t know about the cases? That’s pure speculation. But I think it’s germane to what Aaron laid out.
Jessica Levinson 16:44
I think it is germane to what Aaron laid out. And in any high profile case, I will say prosecutors are very much aware of all of the eyeballs on them. And as a prosecutor, you want to be exercising your discretion to make sure that you’re looking at the facts, and you’re looking at the law, and you’re making an assessment as to whether or not you can walk into a courtroom. And if it does go to trial, prove beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors, that these crimes did in fact occur. And of course, we know that in our system, we always have that high threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt before we take that very serious step of taking somebody’s freedom away. And I think as I said, it’s always true in high profile cases, this isn’t just high profile, right? It’s high profile, and it’s historic. So yes, it’s speculation. I will say that what gives people some consternation people who are critics of the President and want to see him held accountable, is that it appears that Alvin Brad’s predecessor, Cyrus fans looked at this case, and essentially decided to pass on it. And the federal prosecutors looked at this from a federal lens, and also decided to pass on it from a campaign finance perspective, at least. And so at this point, I think what those who want the foreign president to be held accountable, are hoping is that what we find out tomorrow is that this is maybe a little broader than we thought that there are more facts that come to light that we didn’t know, based on the reporting.
Andy Slavitt 18:20
Well, it did go through a grand jury process. Does that give us more? I mean, there had to be people who looked at this objectively, and the law had to be explained to them carefully. And who reached that conclusion? Does that give you a sense that there is more or is that not really the case? Because grand juries can oftentimes come to misleading outcomes?
Jessica Levinson 18:40
So yes, and yes, I will say the fact that we went through that hurdle of a grand jury heard the evidence they heard from the witnesses, and they said, Yes, move forward. That indicates that there of course, is a there. Does it mean that this is an easy case? Or that other prosecutors would have exercised their discretion the same way? No, it doesn’t.
Andy Slavitt 19:02
Okay, So Aaron, there’s two things that we’re hearing at least two things from Republicans, least that I can make out. One is that the application that this is a very petty small, not very big case to be made, and they sort of a minimization, and this is of the lines of Brad, let’s murderers go free or people who commit violent crimes, get light sentences, and yet he’s going after a quote unquote, small campaign violation. The other thing we hear is that this is a prosecutor that is controlled by a major democratic donor. And there’s an inference that, you know, he’s motivated purely by politics. They wouldn’t be going after this case, if he hadn’t been a bit raising money and running for his own office. What do you make of those two accusations?
Aaron Blake 19:57
Yeah, you know, I think this is something that the ladder one, this is something that has come up in some of these other investigations that involve Trump, New York Attorney General Letitia James, when she was campaigning for her job before bringing the big lawsuit against Trump spoke about not just holding him accountable, but basically going after him. And she earned some criticism for that. Fanny Willis, the District Attorney in Fulton County, as part of her investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election held a fundraiser for somebody that wound up being a fake elector, in that case. And so there’s, you know, when your prosecutors are elected, it creates a situation that is not ideal, because they’re running on party banners, they’re having to appeal to people rather than being, you know, the nonpartisan people who may work their way up through the justice department. And so I think that looms over it. I also think it’s worth noting that, as far as this, you know, being perceived as kind of a more small bore thing. I think that’s reflected in in the polling that we’ve seen here. There was a poll from Quinnipiac University, which showed 32% of people thought that the allegation the Manhattan case is very serious. That’s compared to about half of people who consider things like declassified documents case, overturning the election, January 6, consider those to be very serious. So it is something that people view as less important and maybe would be less anxious to see prosecuted. That poll also showed that people were more likely to see this as a political prosecution than then based on the law. So I think we all see the president, the former president talking about these things, as a witch hunt, and a lot of times that case is vastly overstated. But this seems to be a case in which people do see it as smaller and might be more inclined to believe that it’s not something that should be brought. And so, of course, a lot of that is going to depend on the actual evidence we see and how compelling that is, because how much people actually paying attention to the details of this case that they first heard about, basically, five years ago.
Andy Slavitt 22:04
It’s interesting, I hear your George Soros funded prosecutor is a bit more rhetoric than I do substance only because when they get behind that this is not a prosecutor that has ever met George Soros, nor is George Soros donated to him directly. But George Soros is kind of a longtime believer in criminal justice reform and is donated to an organization that gave about 10% of that many people who donated to it that gave him some amount of his funding to Bragg’s race. But it sounds good, because Soros is sort of one of these boogeyman on the left. But the other one, I’m a little more curious about the kind of your sense, as you said at the Public polls, and that people just don’t feel this is that big of an issue? I think about and maybe you could remind us of what’s similar and different, the John Edwards situation when, who ran for president a couple of decades ago, and it’s thankfully out of most of our mind most of the time now. And, of course, Bill Clinton, who when he was president, both of them were involved in some tawdry situations, both of them didn’t tell the truth about it. So is there a double standard? Are there are there likely to be vast differences in the cases?
Aaron Blake 23:17
Well, the AdWords comparison is something that’s going to come up a lot that I mean, there’s a lot of similarities there. We’re talking about a presidential candidate, we’re talking about payments that are made to somebody who was not their wife, in Edwards’s case was an actual affair that resulted in a child in Trump’s case is an alleged affair that he says didn’t actually happen. I think there’s it’s important to note that there are some key differences there. In the Edwards case, there was not as convincing evidence that this money was geared towards the campaign, the source of these funds. They weren’t able to establish that this was geared towards the campaign, and the payments to […] Hunter, continued after Edwards’s campaign was over. And so that’s substantiated the idea that this wasn’t primarily about the campaign. This could have been about keeping this from John Edward’s, his wife at the time. I think if you look at the evidence in in Trump’s case, you have comments that were made by Rudy Giuliani on TV that referenced, you know, what if this came up during a debate late in the election, things like that, that could lead you to more, I think, potentially more convincingly argue that these payments were made with a campaign in mind, in addition to just oh, by the way, having been in the final weeks of a campaign, which was very close.
Andy Slavitt 24:43
Let me take one more quick break. Aaron, do you have time to stick around for a few more minutes?
Aaron Blake 24:46
I’d be happy to.
Andy Slavitt 24:47
Terrific. Thank you. We’ll be right back. We are back. Let’s talk about how this is likely to play out a bit. And what we think some of the consequences are. But I want to start with the sort of tell me if you guys think I’ve got this generally right about public reaction. I think there’s a group of people who would look at a prosecution like this and say, you know, he’s guilty of so many things. This is just one of them. He probably commits a crime every day, or nearly every day. And, you know, this happens to be the one that we’re easy to get caught for. So, yes, not so big. But you know, it’s just representative of a person who is generally a corrupt person who doesn’t play by the rules of the law. And this is the one that had stared him. And then there’s probably another an opposite view, which says, you know, there are so many cases against him, because people despise him politically. They can’t stand him politically, and there are people who just are sworn up and down, to do everything they can to prevent him from being president again, or to pay back, you know, whatever ill feelings they have towards him. And so there’s this issue in the eye of the beholder thing. What I don’t know is where the center lies here. So first of all, you know, based on your reporting and coverage, Aaron, do you think that’s the right assessment? And then how do you think whatever the general view is, how this case is going to affect the campaign?
Aaron Blake 26:40
I think you really need to separate it between the primary and the general election that now first of all, I say, there’s just so much that we’re going to learn about this that is going to affect how it’s perceived. I think all of this is guesswork to some extent right now.
Andy Slavitt 26:54
But really, do you really think the facts of the indictment matter? But not talking politically now? Not like do you think there are people who are like, Oh, well, now that I know that I’ve got so mad at Trump or now that I know that I’m not going to be as much of a supporter of Trump or are people baked in?
Aaron Blake 27:07
Yeah, I mean, it’s a valid question we saw, we’ve seen through pretty much everything that that Donald Trump has gone through from a legal perspective. It didn’t do much to move his numbers, it was always between like the high 30s and the low 40s, who continued to like him no matter what, with some minor fluctuations in there. I think it’s a valid question to ask, like, if we see evidence that Donald Trump said, we need to, you know, make sure this woman doesn’t say anything, because she could lose the election. So will you please pay her? You know, if we, you know, that would be potentially the smoking gun, legally speaking. But would it actually change people’s opinions to people already assume that’s basically what took place?
Aaron Blake 27:07
I think there’s probably very little dispute about what probably happened here. He had an affair with an adult film actress, he made a payment to husher up, people known that about Donald Trump, whether you liked it or like him? I don’t think anybody doesn’t think that happened. The question is whether people think he’s been prosecuted for unnecessarily for political reasons. Because of that, or the reverse that he’s that be held accountable for that.
Aaron Blake 28:19
Yeah, I think this is where it gets kind of interesting. And you know, we talked about how people generally view this as being a smaller issue than classified documents, January 6, those kinds of things. But if you look back at how this was perceived in real time, in 2018, when Michael Cohen was pleading guilty, when we were getting, you know, the tapes and the copies of the check the images of the checks that were reimbursement for this, this was actually viewed as the most problematic thing that had come to light eight and 10. People thought that this was at the very least unethical and majority of Republicans at the time, said it was at least unethical now. They didn’t think it was criminal, but they at least saw something there that was objectionable. And maybe once the actual facts are sorted through that suggests that people can be convinced to some degree, I’m not saying it’s going to be a huge shift in public opinion, one way or another, but it does suggest that people at least have when they have processed the underlying facts of the case. They’ve said, yeah, there’s something that’s not quite right there.
Andy Slavitt 29:22
Okay. So let’s talk about how that plays out in the primary and how opponents of Donald Trump either win or lose ground because of what goes on in here.
Aaron Blake 29:32
Yeah, I mean, look at how Ron DeSantis handled this. There was, you know, his initial response was to say, you know, I’m not getting involved in that. And he referenced the particulars of the case in a very pronounced and apparently deliberate way, saying porn star and hush money twice. And then when the indictment came down, he put out a statement that basically said he wouldn’t assist in an extradition, which by the way, is kind of a non-issue but pull it legally speaking it was telling because it shows this guy who is Trump’s biggest competition for the 2024 nomination, does not think that he can, you know, keep pointing at the bad things about this and that he needs to be seen as defending Trump. It’s the contradiction, the paradox that has kind of exuded the Republican Party for a long time where I think a lot of them in their heart of hearts recognize that it’s would be nice to kind of turn the page, and maybe they hope some of these things would usher that process along, but actually effectuating that by doing anything, or saying anything to help is a recipe for people, you know, a backlash against you. And so it just makes it a very impractical situation for everybody involved.
Andy Slavitt 30:45
So I think it sounds like people are gonna be pretty set in their views that, look, this is a small thing. We’re not saying he didn’t do it. No one is coming and saying you can do it, in fact that they might have a little fun, as you said, talking about exactly what he probably did do. But they’re saying, man, prosecutors going after someone running for president for something this small, particularly if they were they themselves are elected politicians, is target practice. And so it seems like the you know, if I’m a Republican political consultant, which by the way, no one’s ever hired me for as much as I just can’t seem to get hired for them. But if I’m a proposal consultant, I’m saying exactly what they’re doing, which is, don’t be seen on the side of someone who thinks that people should be prosecuted over this sort of thing. So it seems logical. But so in fact, does that mean this helps Trump even if DeSantis and other potential opponents don’t use it against it? Does this still help Trump in the primary? Does it make it more likely? Does this case make it more likely that it becomes the nominee?
Aaron Blake 31:55
I think it’s plausible that well, and we’ve seen even in the last couple of weeks here, a lot of the new polls, compared to the same poll last month show Trump expanding his lead. Now, question is that does that have to do with this case, suddenly being in the news, and it seeming like an indictment as it was imminent? I don’t know that that’s necessarily the case. But it’s certainly 100% true that Donald Trump has built his brand around the idea that the left and the deep state are conspiring against him, and will take him down at any cost. And by the way, not just him, but they’re taking you down, because we’re all in this together kind of thing. Right. And to the extent this helps him drive that message, I would not be surprised to see at least a short term benefit for him. how it plays out over the long term, I think is a separate question, especially given that we have seen over the last year or so and especially since the 2022 election, that there was an appetite for moving on and maybe believing that Donald Trump is not the best hope for winning. So is it going to be an emotional thing? Or is it going to be a pragmatic thing? I think is the is the question before the Republican Party right now.
Andy Slavitt 33:08
Okay, so according to one measure, politically, our assessment is This is worse, neutral and potentially positive for Trump. Now, let’s talk about legal consequences. Jessica, as this plays out, maybe give us first of all, a little bit of a sense of what the timing of this case is likely to be, when will this be playing out? And then what the potential likely legal remedies are going to be for a case that has the charges that we expect to be brought.
Jessica Levinson 33:37
Only the easy questions. So I’ll say in terms of the timeline, it’s not weeks, and it’s not a few months, we’re talking about numerous months. And we’re potentially looking at if I mean, all of this is hypothetical. But if in fact, this case, or these cases do go to trial, we could see them happening right around the political conventions before the 2024 election. And I think what we should add is that the former President announced his candidacy to be president again, very, very early in part, I think, as a political strategy so that when and if these indictments did start coming out, he could say, they’re just trying to make sure I lose in the primary, or they’re just trying to make sure that I don’t win the presidency again. And that’s just a political argument. There is nothing to prevent somebody who’s facing indictment or even a conviction from running for president and even winning the presidency. Now, what are the possible remedies here? Or what is he potentially facing? Well, of course, we have to wait until tomorrow but there is, of course, the potential of jail time. I mean, depending on the felonies that we see we’re assuming there will be felonies. There is The potential of time and custody. And, of course, this isn’t the only case that I think Andy, you know, you and Aaron and I will all be talking about because I do think as the Mar-a-Lago investigation accelerates, as the January 6 investigation accelerates. And as we wait to see what the DEA in Georgia does, we could be having this conversation again, we’re going to be I think, for prosecutors in a very ugly timeline, where they’re looking at a legal timeline and how long it takes these cases to proceed through the system. And also, they’re mapping that onto the electoral calendar. And they’re trying to figure out how to balance those two things.
Andy Slavitt 35:43
So remind us about grand jury case in Georgia, when does that likely to come back?
Jessica Levinson 35:47
So what we heard previously from the district attorney there is that a decision was imminent that the special grand jury in that case had heard all the evidence that they had finished their report. And DEA said a decision is imminent, I believe back in January. The latest in that case, is that Trump actually filed a motion and said, Let’s essentially trash that special grand jury report, the judge said, You need to respond district attorney’s office to tell us why we shouldn’t. I think there’s no legal basis for that particular motion. But it’s going to delay things by at least about a month or a few weeks. So I don’t expect really any action in that case until potentially May.
Andy Slavitt 36:31
So that’s really interesting, because what I think you both just said, If I’m summarizing Oh, and oversimplifying a bit is politically, if anything, Trump looks at this, and has reason to say you know what, I can use this to my advantage. If anything, this is a positive. On the other hand, from a legal Jeopardy standpoint, this can’t be fun for him, even to have some risk of going to jail or being fingerprinted or having his record. You know, having this on his record, March record, like he said, This is not a dynamic he’s controlling effectively one of the few times where we see him physically in settings where he is not in control. And I wonder if this explains Aaron, some of the reporting we’ve seen around Trump’s mood, which is that he seems you know, at times, like boy into defiant. And yet there is there are some reports, at least that I’ve read, that he’s got some rather deep anxiety about this, because depending on whether you’re looking at it politically, or whether you’re looking at it from a sort of legal standpoint, that might explain it.
Aaron Blake 37:44
Yeah, it’s a really good question. I mean, from all outward appearances, this is some buddy who has, has flouted, at the very least has flouted the norms and the legal standards that have been set in front of him. We haven’t seen him apparently chastened in any way, by Robert Muller’s findings about potential obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. He still went on and did what he did with regard to Ukraine. You know, he’s still proceeded after the 2020 election to make some, some very controversial comments in an effort to retain the presidency. So, you know, you look at that, and you say, well, this guy doesn’t need us not all that concerned about potentially facing legal Jeopardy. But I also think, you know, sometimes you can’t account for, you know, people in how they view themselves as potentially being above the law, maybe he thought this day would never actually come. And certainly when you’re a president, you know, the idea that you would wind up being the first not just the first indicted former president, but the first convicted former president, that’s a significant part of your biography one day. And so I would imagine that on some level, this is being felt in a very real way. And now we’ll, you know, I think the other thing here is that, you know, he’s gonna have to, you know, message this in a way that is going to be difficult for a long period of time if he wants to keep that political momentum behind him.
Andy Slavitt 39:17
Well, we have an interesting 24 hours ahead of us, and an interesting here at your plus to this election. We’ll go to watch closely, I want to thank you both Aaron Blake for The Washington Post. Jessica, I told folks at the beginning but remind us about your terrific podcast.
Jessica Levinson 39:34
Thank you. It’s a podcast called passing judgment.
Andy Slavitt 39:38
passing judgment. We’re gonna see a lot of that coming up. Thank you both.
Jessica Levinson 39:41
Thank you. Thanks, Andy. I love coming back. I love the podcast
Andy Slavitt 39:58
What a start to the week In about a week, we will have ahead of us. So after you’re done watching CNN or some other network, for the Breathless coverage of tomorrow’s events, come back here on Wednesday, for another great conversation. And then on Friday for another great conversation, the two topics we’re gonna cover have little to do with Donald Trump. But they do have to do with us. And one of them is the swirling and growing controversy and debate over what is going to be done about TikTok. Used by 150 million Americans most popular social media app, but owned by a Chinese company. Lots of issues to untangle there, some great guests and then on Friday, we’re going to get inside the Republican effort to disenfranchise college students in the coming election, and whether they’re making headway and what can be done. If you’ve got college students in your life. I don’t care who they vote for. We need more of them to vote. And people making it harder is not a good thing. So we’re going to shine a light on that. Okay, off with you to work or to play or whatever you’re going to do today. We’ll talk on Wednesday. Thanks for tuning in.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.