GSU prof: Trump ‘highly unlikely’ to face election trial before 2024 vote

‘The wheels of justice are not terribly fast,’ political scientist says on ‘Politically Georgia.’
The remaining legal cases against former President Donald Trump in Georgia and other jurisdictions — including whether they'll ever go to trial — were discussed Wednesday on "Politically Georgia."

Credit: AJC File

Credit: AJC File

The remaining legal cases against former President Donald Trump in Georgia and other jurisdictions — including whether they'll ever go to trial — were discussed Wednesday on "Politically Georgia."

Former President Donald Trump faces legal charges involving his business and political activities in multiple jurisdictions, including Georgia. However, it’s “highly unlikely” that his federal election interference case will go to trial before the November presidential election, a Georgia State University professor said.

“The wheels of justice are not terribly fast, and cases take a long time,” Amy Steigerwalt, a GSU professor of political science, said Wednesday on “Politically Georgia.”

Although every citizen has the right to a speedy trial under the U.S. Constitution, “if one wants to, one can also delay a trial,” she said. Defendants may use procedural arguments to buy time.

“As we get closer to the election, there will become more pressure to delay it to see what happens,” Steigerwalt said, and “depending on the election results, there could be a change in whether or not there’s a prosecution at all.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is also considering whether Trump can claim presidential immunity from criminal charges based on his official acts as president.

Trump’s lawyers are arguing that he should be granted absolute immunity because the line between official presidential duties and campaign actions is impossible to distinguish, Steigerwalt said, while the opposition maintains that his campaign activities are private. The nation’s highest court is expected to release its decision this month.

Fred Smith, an Emory University professor of law who also joined “Politically Georgia” on Wednesday, said Supreme Court justices have been embroiled in internal disputes in recent years and trust in the institution has declined.

“They are taking fewer and fewer cases, which means that increasing attention is put on each one that they’re taking,” he said. “They’re also taking a lot of cases that challenge what a lot of people presumed were settled law,” such as overturning Roe v. Wade, which ensured a constitutional right to an abortion.

Still, Smith said, they have managed to find consensus on some cases, including a recent decision regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its ability to issue rules.

Later in the show Wednesday, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey discussed the political pressures on teachers and persistent low pay that are deterring college students from obtaining degrees in education.

“What we have seen in the last five years has been a strong blaming of teachers. Whatever was going wrong seemed to fall on teachers,” she said. “And it wasn’t just academics. We’re currently accusing teachers of political indoctrination.”

A teacher in Cobb County, Katie Rinderle, was fired after she read a book to fifth-grade students that challenged gender norms.

“The laws were designed to scare teachers into compliance,” Downey said. “And I think that has been effective.”

Thursday on “Politically Georgia”: Journalist Ari Berman will discuss his new book, “Minority Rule,” and his assessment of the Black vote in Georgia.