Elie Honig, a senior legal expert for CNN, has been a constant on broadcast, deconstructing the multiple accusations levied against former President Donald Trump. He possesses the relevant expertise for the position: In his most recent book, Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away with It, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Honig skillfully investigates how individuals like Trump are able to avoid responsibility.
Now, it seems as though Trump has been caught up in the law. The former president is charged with 91 crimes across four indictments, and if found guilty on all counts, he would serve 712 years in jail.
However, it is entirely uncertain whether Trump will ever step foot inside a prison cell. On the most recent episode of The Interview podcast, Honig and Mediaite editor-in-chief Aidan McLaughlin spoke at length about this issue.
“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 said that because the Georgia charge is a state case, and Trump cannot dismiss it or self-exonerate from it, “they’re not going to be able to try him while he’s sitting president.”
Honig said that trying Trump as the current 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 simply “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 suggested that Biden might decide to commute Trump’s sentence even if he loses the 2024 election and is given a prison term. Honig claimed that if Joe Biden were to win a second term and be 84 or 85 years old, 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.’”
But in the end, Honig contended, Trump won’t “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 what we call bail pending appeal, meaning the judge will say you don’t have to start serving your time until you’ve exhausted and lost all your appeals.”
Even if accelerated, the process would still take at least a year to 18 months, according to Honig.
Visit this page to download the entire episode, and follow The Interview on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
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