The Case Is Strong. Here's How Trump Can Beat It

Paul Rosenzweig lays out the obstacles faced by prosecutors, starting with the judge
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Trump Case Isn't a Slam Dunk. It's a Tough 3-Pointer
Former President Donald Trump speaks during the North Carolina Republican Party Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Special counsel Jack Smith has laid out what many observers see as a damning case against Donald Trump over classified documents. Take the view of William Barr, who served as Trump's own attorney general: "If even half of it is true, then he's toast," he told Fox News on Sunday, per USA Today. The phrase "slam dunk" is being tossed around, but Paul Rosenzweig at the Atlantic floats a different basketball analogy: The "case is more aptly characterized as a difficult contested shot from beyond the 3-point arc." Yes, Smith has presented exhaustive evidence suggesting Trump is guilty of illegally taking the documents in the first place, then obstructing the subsequent investigation, writes Rosenzweig. But "there is a more-than-reasonable possibility that Trump will never be convicted."

Why so? Rosenzweig ticks off the reasons:

  • The judge: Smith got "exceedingly unlucky" with the federal judge assigned to the case in Florida. Judge Aileen Cannon is a Trump appointee who could affect the proceedings in myriad ways, including by which evidence she deems acceptable.
  • The jury: That the case is being tried in Florida rather than DC gives Trump a much better chance of having sympathetic jurors. Of course, jurors can be swayed, but Rosenzweig points out that most of the Trump World convictions so far (including Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon) "have come in jurisdictions that have leaned decidedly against Trump." He also sees a legitimate risk of "jury nullification"—that a single juror will ignore all evidence and vote to acquit.
Read his full essay. (More Mar-a-Lago indictment stories.)

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