Spring Break: Christie’s Prediction of a Trump Conviction by Spring Just Hit a Snag

Below is a longer version of my column in the New York Post on the leaking of the interviews of former counsel to Donald Trump. The interviews could magnify the difficulties for both Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Special Counsel Jack Smith in their respective prosecutions.  These cases still represent a serious threat to Trump, but these prosecutors must first overcome a glaring potential contradiction. That does not mean that Christie and the other candidates will not get a “Spring Break” with a conviction, but it could prove more challenging even with highly favorable jury pools.

Here is the column:

This week, Chris Christie declared that “it’s over” for Donald Trump and predicted  that the former president would be a convicted felon “by the Spring.” He was specifically referring to the prosecutions linked to the 2020 election denial in Atlanta and D.C.

However, Yogi Berra would likely caution that, in baseball and litigation, “it ain’t over till it’s over.”

Trump’s greatest threat of conviction remains in Florida, where he is facing federal charges related to his retention of classified documents.

But the judge in that case seems inclined to delay it, perhaps even until after the election.

And with reports that Biden will not face charges in his own handling of classified documents, Trump has a political rallying cry that — correctly or not — he’s being treated differently.

So that leaves the two cases surrounding the 2020 election.

In Georgia, a slew of former lawyers are taking pleas with promises to testify if called. Some of their depositions have been leaked, much to the dismay of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. She has reason to be alarmed because some of the leaked interviews hit hard at the weakest link in her conspiracy case.

For instance, Sidney Powell stated that Trump clearly believed that he had won the election when he was challenging the results in the courts and Congress.

Powell pleaded to misdemeanors for a deal that avoids jail time and preserves her ability to resume the practice of law. She notably did not plead guilty to the sweeping racketeering charges brought by Willis to link Trump in an effort to subvert the election.

I previously wrote that the Achilles heel of the criminal complaint was Trump’s state of mind: “As a threshold matter, one problem is immediately evident. If Trump actually did (or does) believe that he did not lose the election, the indictment collapses.”

That’s exactly what Powell argues. Trump had “general instincts that something wasn’t right here.” She added “I didn’t think he had lost. I saw an avenue pursuant to which, if I was right, he would remain president.”

That supplies a key defense for Trump: That he believed assurances from counsel that he had a case to make in challenging the election.

Powell’s statement will also present challenges to Special Counsel Jack Smith who has a parallel case in Washington, D.C. While both prosecutors benefit from heavily favorable jury pools in staunchly Democratic strongholds, it requires only one holdout juror to result in a hung jury.

Smith has admitted that Trump’s election claims were protected under the First Amendment, but claims that, at some point, they became criminal lies. But Smith fails to explain when that line was clearly crossed —  a dangerous ambiguity for free speech, particularly in the context of an election.

Smith ignores past election challenges by Democrats that were made without factual or legal support, including the challenge in Congress to certifying Trump’s victory in 2016 by figures like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md). The statement of Powell only magnifies those concerns over the lack of a clear line between political advocacy and criminal conduct in future cases.

As part of his own agreement, former counsel Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty  to conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Again, the deal avoided jail time and allowed him to keep his law license.

His attorney, Scott Grubman, said that Chesebro “never believed in ‘the Big Lie’ ” and that he knows Joe Biden won the election. However, the question is what he told Trump about avenues for challenging the election. Grubman was quoted in the Messenger as stating that  he “do[esn’t] think” Trump should be concerned about Chesebro’s plea and Chesebro “didn’t snitch against anyone.”

Previously, Chesebro’s lawyers stated that nothing about his “conduct falls outside the bounds of what lawyers do on a daily basis; researching the law in order to find solutions that address their clients’ particularized needs.”

Both the prosecutors and media have maintained a conflicted narrative of a man who could not accept defeat and a man who knew he was defeated.

Trump has long been portrayed as a megalomaniac in the media who never apologizes nor accepts failure. It is perfectly consistent that a man long described as having an inflated self-image would not accept that he is a loser.

That long-held journalistic view is now a viable criminal defense.

The Georgia case has strong individual claims for crimes like unauthorized access to voting machines or areas. But that clarity is lost in the effort to establish a massive racketeering conspiracy to ensnare Trump.

While polls increasingly show Trump winning a general election against Biden, pundits point to these criminal trials as proof it’s all over.

However, none of these cases are truly slam dunks, particularly with the danger of hung juries.

In the end, both Willis and Smith are saying that a client can be criminally liable for taking the advice of counsel.  Yet, his former counsel still maintain that “I didn’t think he had lost. I saw an avenue pursuant to which, if I was right, he would remain president.” Willis will argue that not only the lawyers should be punished for these claims but so should the client in following their advice. Moreover, she will seek to use the lawyers themselves to convict their client for listening to them.

Former counsel Jenna Ellis quotes another Trump aide in saying that the court losses did not matter because “we don’t care, and we’re not going to leave.’” However, the man she now calls a “narcissist” did indeed leave. He left with counsel publicly maintaining their ongoing claims of fraud, including Ellis. The question is whether such bad lawyering can make a good case for the prosecution.

For candidates like Christie, it is understandable to hope that the courts will finally dislodge the hold of Trump on this primary. He, like others, look at this election, to paraphrase Richard III, as “the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of [New] York.” However, spring could just as easily bring more discontent rather than convictions.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.

 

207 thoughts on “Spring Break: Christie’s Prediction of a Trump Conviction by Spring Just Hit a Snag”

  1. …” Yogi Berra would likely caution that, in baseball and litigation, “it ain’t over till it’s over.”” …
    [It] ain’t over till it’s over, on Inauguration Day January 20, 2025 🇺🇸

  2. I met a traveller from an antique land who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

  3. JT your conflating the issue. This is not a free speech case. This is not a case of challenging an election. There was plenty of time for free speech and challenges, all of which happened, and none of which is being called criminal. This is a case about getting a slew of fake electores to claim he won when the states said he did not. This is a case of trying to get the Vice President to not bring forth valid elector votes. This was a case of threatening a state official to “find him” just enough votes to win.

    DJT is a danger to democracy and the sooner he leaves the scene the scooner we can get on to having elections where the candidates make proposals on how to best run the country. Not a list of grievenances that he is going to sick the full power of the U.S. Government to squash. trump has gone full fascist, if you support trump, you are supporting a fascist. What does that make you?

    1. The real fascists are the woke leftists that have highjacked the Democrat party.
      Just look at their actions.
      Selective censorship.
      Attempting to remove a candidate from ballots.
      Using federal agencies to go after political opponents.
      The banana republic two tiered justice system.
      You are the real fascist.

      1. Upstatefarmer, fascists are the first to call others fascist because they express their views through projection. It’s a form of self denial.

        Selective censorship? Turley’s blog practices it. Republicans practice it. They create laws to make sure it’s practiced.

        Attempting to remove candidates from ballots. Through legal means and based on a theory proposed by a couple of libertarian scholars, not democrats.

        Using federal agencies to go after political opponents? Trump did that when he was president. He used the DOJ as his personal bodyguard. He’s already calling for doing the same thing if he’s elected. The “turnabout is fair play” BS some like to claim is an about petty vindictiveness.

        There is no two tiered Justice system. Trump and his supporters whine that he’s being held to the same standard as everyone else. Because he should be more special for being a former president and a billionaire. Trump is being tried for crimes he’s accused of and is going thru the same process as everyone else. Trump is complaining that he’s being treated “unfairly” because he’s being treated like ever else.

        Trump is a narcissist. Turley can’t even bring himself to call him for what he is, a narcissist.

        1. Svelaz: And your hero Obama? Not a narcissist? Can you not picture him with his nose in the air gazing into the distance? People that get to the level of running for POTUS are pretty much all narcissists. Obama had the gall to say something like. “We are the ones we have been waiting for…”

          1. Randy, it’s clear you don’t know what a narcissist is. Look it up. Obama was never a narcissist. You’re confusing narcissism with elitist.

      2. I highly recommend you read about what a fascist is. Trump has gone full fascist in his latest rants. Selective censorship? You mean all the right people banning books in libraries? Closing libraries? refusal to teach our true history of racism and slavery in our schools? Those are all republican positions. Keeping trump off the ballot is simply a reaction to his actions (or lack there of) on January 6, 2021. It was an insurrection. Ask those that have been convicted of seditious conspiracy. Ask those that attacked the capitol on why they did it. They answer they did it at the behest of trump.

        1. Bob, what books have been “banned”? If you take Deep Throat out of middle school is the movie banned? As for To Kill a Mockingbird, it is Dems pulling it. As for Dr Seuss it is Dems banning it.

          Please do tell us what libraries have been closed. Please tell is where liberals have been censored. Have libs been censored on campus? Hollywood? Twitter, FB, IG, where, where where?

          Where has history about racism and slavery been banned? Florida? A state that had black scholars setting up the school plans.

          Bob, you are either a liar, a paid operative or a completely blinded partisan to post something as asinine as your comment. Either stop being a spy, try being more open minded or get mental health before too long.

          1. I love it when someone points out truths such as book banning. the response is I must be a mental case. Yep, the trump cult is alive and well. Get help, you need it. Check out what happened in Idaho with Libraries, school boards, health districts. Doxing people that only wanted to help society. Sad that an orange fascist man can make people so dumb.

            1. Since we’re on the topic of banning, your naked public bicycle rides, your full frontal and rear nudity gay parades, your no drawers or underwear in situ restaurant entry and seating ( I believe San francisco limited or banned that latter one after some time experiencing rampant sexual disease spreading), your sexual perversion children library story hours, a few others we need BANNED immediately.
              WE CAN CALL IT INDECENT EXPOSURE AND CHARGE FOR THAT.
              Also, your homeless crapping in the streets.

        2. I highly recommend you have someone explain what a fascist is to you, since you are incapable of knowing that it is exactly what you leftards have done to Trump and his followers.

      1. Edwardmahl,
        Well said.
        I would add all those un-elected officials who are dependent on the status quo.

    2. The MAGAs have falsely convinced themselves that they support the Constitution. Trumps crimes goes against the basic foundation of the Constitution. Thus they need to ignore Trumps actions and lie to themselves that “Trump was just questioning the election.”

      1. Trump was challenging the election results just like Democrats have in the past.
        When Democrats do it, it is patriotic.
        When Republicans do it, the Democrats cry it is a threat to democracy.
        See the doublestandard? That is the banana republic the Democrats have brought the US to.

        1. “Trump was challenging the election results just like Democrats have in the past.”

          Up to a point you are correct. But on January 6 2021 trump and his minions went far beyond anything the Demos have done previously. Nobody is saying he didn’t have the right to challenge election results in court. He did, He lost every case. There was no corruption. When did the Demos ransack the capitol building on the day electoral results were counted in the capitol? When did the Demos threaten to kill the VP if he did not do their bidding.

          Get a grip. What trump did was encourage an insurrection. Unfortunate for him (and good for the country) it was ran by the keystone cops.

          1. “He lost every case. “

            Only morons repeat this mantra after it is proven Trump won 2-3 times the number of cases of merit than he lost. He was a winner if you want to rack up the numbers.

            At least a dozen times the proof has been brought to this blog only for everyone to hear Moron Bob acting like a moron.

            1. “ Only morons repeat this mantra after it is proven Trump won 2-3 times the number of cases of merit than he lost. He was a winner if you want to rack up the numbers.”

              Name the cases he won. He lost, to be accurate, 59 cases. Won one on a technicality. Prove me wrong.

              1. Mr. Stupid, I and others have posted cases Trump won. One posted the entire list of cases with their results, but as usual you repeat your false claims. The last I checked Trump won 23 and lost 8 based on the merits. Anonymous is correct 2-3X, though much closer to 3X.

                You can prove yourself by naming 10 cases lost by Trump / GOP (based on the merits) and I will provide 23 cases he won. Provide the name of the case so it can be linked.

      2. Questioning a stolen election is being a good patriot, and everyone should keep suing and exposing your demoncrat theft of 2020.
        Just because the liars known as the talking heads blabber it was the fairest election ever doesn’t mean anything but the opposite.
        The evidence is overwhelming.
        THIEF.

    3. “This was a case of threatening a state official to “find him” just enough votes to win.”

      Tell me, did Trump wave 2 fingers on each hand, a la Dr. Evil, the way you just did, around the word “find”?

      Moron.

  4. Trump has long been portrayed as a megalomaniac in the media who never apologizes nor accepts failure. It is perfectly consistent that a man long described as having an inflated self-image would not accept that he is a loser.

    Fascinating. This is a perfect example of the go-to tactic used by Democrats to gaslight the people. Projection.

    It’s their progressive/socialist worldview that is a failure wherever it’s been tried. They know Biden and the Regime are the reason this country is on a losing path and they have no choice but to try and pin that on Trump

  5. Ann Arbor, MI 48108
    May 17, 2021

    letters@nytimes.com

    To the Editor:

    It is difficult to see how your reporter (art. 5-14-21) writing on Liz
    Cheney and Wyoming can write about “the president’s (Trump’s)
    false claims that the election had been rigged” when Mr. Crestwell
    was correct in saying “Show me the proof. We don’t have the black
    and white of what really happened yet.”

    After listening to Rudy Giuliani’s presentation to members of the
    Pennsylvania State Legislature, I had an exchange with a young
    Russian academic who did his dissertation on election integrity in
    East European and Soviet successor states. What was disturbing
    was the clear parallel of the pattern of election fraud in those
    elections and the situation in Pennsylvania in 2020.

    If the election fraud in the 2020 election is not thoroughly and
    honestly examined we can expect that such fraud will increasingly
    become part and parcel of our elections as it was in Illinois at
    the time my first presidential election was stolen in 1960.

    Sincerely yours,

  6. Ann Arbor, MI 48108
    May 17, 2021

    letters@nytimes.com

    To the Editor:

    It is difficult to see how your reporter (art. 5-14-21) writing on Liz
    Cheney and Wyoming can write about “the president’s (Trump’s)
    false claims that the election had been rigged” when Mr. Crestwell
    was correct in saying “Show me the proof. We don’t have the black
    and white of what really happened yet.”

    After listening to Rudy Giuliani’s presentation to members of the
    Pennsylvania State Legislature, I had an exchange with a young
    Russian academic who did his dissertation on election integrity in
    East European and Soviet successor states. What was disturbing
    was the clear parallel of the pattern of election fraud in those
    elections and the situation in Pennsylvania in 2020.

    If the election fraud in the 2020 election is not thoroughly and
    honestly examined we can expect that such fraud will increasingly
    become part and parcel of our elections as it was in Illinois at
    the time my first presidential election was stolen in 1960.

    Sincerely yours,
    John Howard Wilhelm

  7. If the Fmr. President Trump is sent up river to the Federal PEN,
    Will the Secret Service have to protect him while he’s doing time?
    Because of His status, will he be going to the Super Max Prison?
    Will the Fmr. First Lady Melania Trump and Baron Trump be able to visit him at Super Max?
    Will Hillary Clinton and Company et.al. finally be satisfied with this; FBI, DOJ, Media, political-assassination?
    … So many questions to be answered – Stay Tuned! –

  8. If Biden Skates on the secret records, especially from when he was senator and vice president, then maybe even democrats would vote Trump innocent. An Appeals court would be more likely though. Democrats in too many cases think their eyes are always lying to them and their lying ears also. Makes you think that macular degeneration and progressive tinnitus are diseases that are increasingly manifest in the Democratic Party or is it now an ethnic group that is protected.

  9. Like I said: Orange is the New Red White And Blue 🇺🇸 – Baby!
    If the Spring Fashions are Orange 🍊, then the Fall Fashions will be in Style for the Great Orange President [GOP 🐘]
    ( On Sale Tuesday, November 5, 2024! )

  10. Christie is a bigger blowhard than Trump ever was and has less accomplishments than Trump (by a wide margin) He thinks that a Trump conviction will drive Republicans into Christie’s tent. Talk about an inflated ego. Christie borders on playing Mini-Me to Trump’s Dr Evil. The only problem is that Trump is not evil and he still is a politician that a large group of people love and adore. Whereas Christie’s Mimi-me is not that Mini, is not funny and I still have not seen thousands of worshippers crowding into his tent. So the question really is What is Christie good for? Comic relief-no, serious relief-no, electability-no, conscience- no because politicians have as much conscience as a 3 point shooter after his last miss. Christie should reform himself and start doing carpentry. It’s more satisfying but just watch your fingers on the table and circular saw.

  11. I am stunned to learn that these cases actually rest on the assumption that Trump KNEW he’d lost. Such a claim is absolutely beyond belief. He KNEW he’d won. An abundance of evidence points to electoral fraud. True, not “widespread”. In our system electoral fraud doesn’t need to be “widespread” in order to throw a Presidential election. The mainstream media are all very careful to include that word in their headlines (“No evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election”) because it is a truth that helps them to tell a lie. In 1960 it is quite possible (likely, even) that JFK won because one machine-controlled city in one state (Chicago Illinois) cheated with the help of the Daley machine. In 2020 it was four big blue cities in four swing/purple states. Not that hard to do. Trump’s been right about many things for which he was excoriated at the time, and this is just another example.

    To claim that he didn’t believe the election was stolen is an outrage and 100% a political game playing on the still-rampant Trump derangement among key sectors of the electorate. It slams up against common sense (the country was soaring economically), historical fact (the polls & Trump’s massive rallies compared to Biden’s 15 empty chalk circles), and the fact that up to 30% of the electorate (70% of Trump’s voters) also believed the election had been stolen. Part of the “narrative” that liberals have been selling ever since Trump took that escalator ride, is that he tells his supporters what to think. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that he articulates what WE WERE ALREADY THINKING. That’s as true of the 2020 election as it is of most of his policy positions. By the way I am not a toothless redneck who married my sister & lives in a trailer park. I’m a Stanford Ph.D. newly retired from 35 years in the Silicon Valley tech sector. As many Ph.D.’s I am trained to observe and chronicle reality. The frankly evil plots of the swamp who stand to lose if Trump gets reelected are as clear to me as any research data I’ve ever seen.

      1. And yet, ” Sidney Powell stated that Trump clearly believed that he had won the election when he was challenging the results in the courts and Congress.”
        Evidence says differently from your assertion.
        You some how know Trump knew he lost?

      2. Typical stupidity again on display from Wally.

        If you want to use phonetic spelling, it would be “loozer”, loser.

    1. I have to agree with you. The best explanation of how the 2020 election presented so many odd anomalies is by comparison to the 1982 Gubernatorial election in Illinois. In 1982 the Democrat candidate, the privileged candidate, complained. Thus the legitimacy of the election now had to be examined. What turned up was 100,000 fraudulent ballots in Chicago alone — absentee ballots that had been filled out by the Chicago Democratic Party machine. Election rules were changed thereafter to prevent a recurrence of this disgrace. Unfortunately the Covid epidemic provided an opportunity to resurrect the old methods and do so much more widely; a few new twists were added to aid injecting suspicious ballots into the election but otherwise it had all been done before.

      My view is that elections should be viewed as “Fair Tests”. Readers who do not understand what this phrase means can look it up, but just one among many challenges toward this goal is to teach the electorate that one ballot is not the same as one vote until proved to be so.

      BTW, I am also a non-knuckle dragging PhD scientist who did not marry his sister.

  12. Winning.
    And it’s Yogi Berra not Berri. Arguably the greatest quote in American history right after “Give me liberty or give me death,” it deserves an accurate citation.

  13. Christie is a fool. He has ZERO chance to being the Republican candidate He is supported by the Liberal organizations and hate Trump groups.

  14. The National Socialist Democrat Party aka American NAZIS have no intention of giving up power.

    Colonel Douglas Macgregor and Martin Armstrong doubt we will have an Election. Colonel Macgregor goes even farther he believes they will suspend the election because they won’t be able to contain the chaos. James Kunstler looks for a possible military coup. The funny thing about Conspiracy Theory it becomes true.

    The lying, cheating and stealing is blatant. The MSM is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the intelligence agencies.

    If Trump is successful or appears to be successful the CIA will take him to Dallas. I think Robert F Kennedy is in the same boat. No question the CIA did a regime change with JFK and other world leaders. Just look to the conduct by the intelligence agencies in the 2016 elections.

    I don’t see anyway out of Civil Upheaval/Revolution. Notice the intense push for gun CONTROL and CONTROL of civilian ammo. Too late on that. According to ATF 700 million guns in circulation. Trillions of rounds of ammo in civilian hands.

    At this point it makes no difference what any court rules. “We the People” understand it’s all rigged.

    1. ZZclancy, Douglas Macgregor is a nut case that would never use American force until our enemy is in Ohio…and then maybe not even then. Kunstler is not someone to take seriously either.

      I know most of us right thinking people on here love Tucker Carlson, and I watched him every night while mostly agreeing with his views, he has a weak spot for the 1930s type of let the world be the world until we are attacked mentality. He has never once asked Macgregor a follow up question while the ex Colonel was spewing complete nonsense. Colonel Doug said that Ukraine would lose in weeks and he has been critical of every single military action America has taken for as long as I have known of him. I guess that is how he makes his living.

  15. In the days when insurance companies paid for black mold removal, removal companies multiplied like maggots on a dead corpse. When the insurance companies finally said, “No! We are no longer paying!” The removal companies went belly up and a couple gallons of bleach spray, a reciprocal saw and some new sheet rock was all that was needed.

    How many tens of millions of dollars have been spent on these witch hunt trials? These millions could be spent on repairing roads, reforming schools, spending the funds to improve the lives of the citizens. Removing homeless from the street and getting them mental help they need.

    In the end, the only ones making money are the lawyers. The taxpayer is the loser. These witch hunts provide the former President with the endless free publicity he craves like a powerful drug.

    1. Au contraire! Taxpayers who are residents of New York State are the consummate losers because the political machine squanders taxpayer dollars funding absurd litigation. AG Letitia James litigation against Donald Trump is just one example. Some of us have been watching. The case brought against the SEC in connection with its Regulation Best Interest was nonsensical. For those of us who went to law school because we cared about justice, the current shenanigans are extremely disconcerting.

  16. I keep thinking what a better place the nation and Americans were under the leadership of a guy who wasn’t a politician, then we have Christie. His political opponents as well as members of his own party hacked away at everything he tried to do during his administration but he still persevered, then we have Christie. Now even after he’s left office they keep hacking away at the man, then we have Christie. They refuse to let the people decide who should or should not be a representative of the people, then we have Christie. We watch as those who have committed breaches of the law are glossed over or just completely ignored, then we have Christie.
    Then we have Christie.

  17. The examples of the double standard of justice coming out of Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice that you outlined in your article are astounding. Attorney-client privilege no longer exists in today’s Amerika if you’re a conservative, Republican, or Deplorable, and heaven forbid if you actually take your attorney’s advice. These are the same people at DOJ who spent millions of dollars hunting down a 69-year-old grandmother for taking a selfie in the Capitol while at the same time ordering U.S. Border Patrol Agents to assist millions of people entering the United States illegally in blatant violation of federal immigration law. Can anyone spell “double standard” ? Thank you, Jonathan, for an excellent article.

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