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Legal expert says Donald Trump is 'pretty screwed' and faces 20 years in prison

Legal expert says Donald Trump is 'pretty screwed' and faces 20 years in prison

Trump faces four indictments but could he actually go to prison?

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is 'pretty screwed' with the indictments against him, according to law professor and legal expert Danny Karon.

While he might be the frontrunner by some distance to become the Republican nominee for the 2024 US election, setting the stage for a rematch with President Joe Biden, Donald Trump is in all sorts of trouble.

There are a grand total of four separate criminal cases in which he has been indicted over incidents that occurred before, during and after his time in the White House.

The first indictment came after a Manhattan grand jury decided to indict Trump over claims that he paid 'hush money' to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump said he was 'completely innocent' and denounced the indictment as 'political persecution and election interference' with that case scheduled for trial in March 2024.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in the indictment cases against him.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

His next indictment involved over 37 felony counts concerning alleged 'wilful retention' of national security information, with the indictment stating he stored classified documents at his Mar-A-Lago home. Trump has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is scheduled for May 2024.

Indictment number three is about alleged efforts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power following Trump's loss in the 2020 election including the 6 January insurrection attempt.

Trump maintains his innocence and called the third indictment 'the latest corrupt chapter' from Biden's administration, claiming the current president and the Department of Justice are trying to 'interfere in the 2024 presidential election'.

Donald Trump faces four separate indictments and he cannot pardon himself from all of them if he becomes president.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Then we arrive at indictment number four after a grand jury in Georgia indicted Trump and 18 others over allegations of participating in a 'conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favour of Trump'.

But what does all of this mean for Donald Trump and what are the chances of him ever seeing the inside of a prison cell for any of these indictments?

According to law professor Danny Karon, the former US president is 'pretty screwed' given the array of charges against him, with the legal expert telling UNILAD that Trump would be 'most scared of' the fourth indictment.

Law professor Danny Karon said Trump is 'pretty screwed' with the indictments against him.

"The big threat is the Georgia case because it involves a RICO violation," Karon explained.

"It carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail. What the State of Georgia here said was that the Trump campaign was a criminal enterprise that was engaged in all these different illegalities for the purpose of overturning the Georgia vote."

"That's what fuels the RICO case that potentially brings 20 years potentially in jail for all 19 defendants."

While Trump has been claiming that he faces hundreds of years in prison he is highly unlikely to receive such long sentences, but he is facing the prospect of going to prison and getting out could be quite difficult for the 77-year-old.

Trump's campaign team for his 2024 Presidential run have sold merchandise based on the indictments.
Donald Trump campaign website

The law professor explained that while Trump can pardon his way out of some of the other charges made against him, if he returns to the White House there's nothing he can do if he's found guilty in Georgia.

Karon explained: "The federal government can't interfere in state business. So whereas he's got the authority to meddle with federal results, he can't do the same in Georgia.

"The only way Georgia case could get flipped is by this outfit called the State Board of Pardons [and Paroles]. And the State Board of Pardons can't undo a conviction of felony conviction for the first five years."

"So whereas in a lot of states, the governor could just swoop in and pardon someone, not in Georgia."

Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani is one of the 18 other defendants among Trump in the Georgia indictment.
Fulton County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

On the other indictments, Trump could pardon himself if he wins the presidency next year, or hope that the is in the White House will be friendly enough to grant him a pardon.

However, while Donald Trump could go to prison if found guilty, that doesn't necessarily stop him from becoming president.

Karon said there was 'nothing in the US constitution that precludes a felon from serving as president' as the only requirements were being a natural-born US citizen, 35 or older and having been a U.S. resident for at least 14 years.

"Textually speaking he can rule from his prison cell," the legal expert said.

"There's no procedure because it's never happened, it's never been contemplated. Considering the state of American voters they might vote him in just on account of all that because that's how crazy things have gotten here."

If he wins the presidency and goes to jail then Trump could potentially rule from his prison cell, the law professor said.
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

With no procedure in place for what to do if the person who voted for a president is in a jail cell, the U.S. would essentially be flying blind if Trump went to prison and won the election.

Karon told UNILAD that this might be a situation where the vice president is called upon in the absence of the Commander-in-Chief.

He added: "My understanding is that if the president's incapacitated, and I suspect this would qualify although it's never happened before.

"It could be no different than if you were gravely injured or died. The vice president would assume the responsibilities."

Of course, all this discussion hinges on Trump being found guilty in the cases against him, particularly as far as the fourth indictment in Georgia is concerned.

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump has pleaded not guilty while Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has said of the case: 'I refuse to fail'.

Karon called that comment a 'heavy' one and remarked that he 'wouldn't want a prosecutor saying that about me'.

The former president's fate hinges on the verdicts of his trials and whether he can secure the presidency for a second time, as Karon dismissed the chance of Joe Biden giving his opponent a pardon, saying: "If Biden didn't want it happening, he could shut it down. But he's not so I can't fathom that Biden would."

Anyone hoping Joe Biden might pardon Trump to avoid disruption is likely to be disappointed, Karon suggests.
Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images

As for his chances of actually winning the election, the law professor said that it appeared as though the indictments against Trump were boosting his popularity among Republican voters.

"Scarily speaking it's helping. He's leading in the polls, he's leading the field of Republicans despite highly capable, qualified competition," Karon said, and polling does show the former president a significant distance ahead of all other GOP challengers.

He stated: "The question I think is can he run, can he win the nomination and can he serve as president if convicted? The answer is yes."

Featured Image Credit: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office/Chip Somodevilla / Staff

Topics: Donald Trump, US News, News, Crime, Politics