Trump plans to leverage on his surrender to garner public sympathy

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Washington, August 21 (IANS) Donald Trump has to surrender by Friday next (August 25) before Fulton County Judge Robert C.I. McBurney to answer DA Willis’ 41-count charges of criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election verdict and poll interference in Georgia under the omnibus RICO Act, and the former US President is leveraging the event of fingerprinting and mug shot to advance his fortunes in the 2024 race by projecting himself as a martyr.

One of the main reasons for Trump skipping the Milwaukee Republican sponsored debate on Wednesday is to avoid taking any risks where he would have to defend himself against eight contestants led by his arch enemy former VP Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and instead give his side of the story face-to-face with Tucker Carlson on Fox TV.

That works better for him, media reports said.

Even as the IOWA caucus was a huge success for Trump as majority of his supporters in the state rejected the charges levelled against him and don’t strongly believe that the 4th indictment at Georgia and the ones before it could have their larger than life figure doing anything wrong.

Yet, Trump has the ignominy of being the first US President in American history to be tried for criminal conspiracy, tax evasion, tax fraud, and paying hush money to an adult porn star, being involved in a Ponzi scheme and being labelled as a misogynist by a woman who has sued him for $10 million for defamation.

Even as Trump's popularity grows among his 'blind' supporters rejecting the indictments, there is as yet no proof or evidence that he would get the RNC or GOP's nominee status as senior party leaders would weigh in the advantages and disadvantages of fielding a candidate with legal woes rather than a Trumpian mould DeSantis who could be a sure shot.

Even as Trump thinks he is growing stronger by the day, inching closer toward a GOP nomination, his legal woes spill over to as long as May 2024. Here is the calendar of trials he faces: Four criminal trials and two civil trials. While some trials have been scheduled already, some others only have proposed trial dates. Trump is the only President to be charged on 100 counts of felony by various courts. 

The Calendar of Trials:  

* October 2, 2023 – scheduled start of New York AG’s civil trial alleging fraud by Trump and children in Trump business of fraudulently obtaining loans from Deutsche Bank by inflating property values, availing tax concessions illegally and indulging in a 15-year tax fraud for which he has been sued for $250 million by DA Letitia James.

* January 2, 2024 – Department of Justice's proposed start of federal criminal trial over 2020 election subversion by trying to stop the electoral process of confirming Joe Biden as the newly-elected President, culminating in the infamous attack on Capitol Hill by a violent mob of supporters endangering the lives of Senators and Vice President Pence who was presiding over the Congress proceedings.

* January 15, 2024 – scheduled start of second defamation case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll who has sued him for $10 million after a $5 million settlement for hauling up Trump for saying things on TV and media defaming her character and integrity.

* March 4, 2024 – Fulton County district attorney's proposed state criminal trial in Georgia over 2020 election subversion where Trump's call to state official Raffensperger to find 11,000 votes to undo the win of Joe Biden. Trump and 18 of his colleagues, including chief counsel Rudy Guliani, have been charged paradoxically under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, never used against politicians before but only against racketeers, mobsters and narcos.

* March 25, 2024 – scheduled start of state criminal trial in New York over the 2016 hush money scheme where he tried to hide an alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels with money through his legal counsel Michel Cohen.

* May 20 or 27, 2024 – scheduled start of federal criminal trial in the Mar-a-Lago documents case where Trump spirited away classified documents from the White House at the end of his presidency that contained sensitive information collated by the CIA, National Intelligence Agency and FBI on Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, instead of returning them to the National Archives.

Some of these dates were scheduled by a judge while the others were proposed by a prosecutor, so they could change eventually, reports said.

Trumps' surrender at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia will work differently from the normal cases because of his status as a former President. It would not follow the normal procedure where police make an arrest, the person arrested is booked into jail and that person must appear before a magistrate judge within 72 hours.

But this process for Trump and his 18 co-defendants facing grand jury arrest warrants will play entirely differently.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis gave the 19 defendants until noon on August 25 to surrender voluntarily. The grand jury’s arrest warrants don't become effective; until they are entered into the Georgia Crime Information Centre by the DA, in this case Fan Willis.

Meanwhile, Trumps’ attorneys are expected to negotiate with the DAs’ office to work out the terms of release and bond for their clients – better known as a Consent Bond.

The judge who considers the bond agreement, in this case McBurney, has to consider four factors when deciding whether to approve them, attorneys told the CNN network.

The judge has to determine the defendant is not a flight risk, is not likely to commit other felonies pending trial, does not present a danger to the community and is not likely to intimidate witnesses or take other steps to interfere with the case. 

As per the protocols of the Fulton County Sheriff’s office, all the defendants in this case are to be booked at the Rice Street Jail. Once a defendant enters the jail and is taken into custody, he/she is technically “under arrest". They are not expected to be handcuffed.  

Once the defendants are taken into custody, they are expected to be fingerprinted and have their mug shot taken, according to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat. Normally, the procedures of medical screening and frisking take hours. 

But attorneys told CNN the process could move more swiftly for VIP defendants in the Trump case. They could be processed within 15 minutes if officials at the jail are to swiftly move them in and get them out, NBC reported.

If the defendants have a bond agreement in place, they will be processed and then released. If the defendants do not have a bond agreement in place, they will be kept in custody.

The jail is open 24x7 and the defendants can turn themselves in at any time. Some may try to coordinate with the Sheriff’s office before they arrive in order to expedite the process.

In Trump’s case, one can expect the Secret Service to coordinate with the Sheriff’s office ahead of time.

Once bonded, a typical defendant exits through the front door. High-profile defendants in the past have been allowed to exit through an alternate intake entrance – one that is less accessible to the public and media once driven beyond the gate.