Donald V. Watkins
Trump’s Options Are Narrowing
Updated: Oct 16, 2022
By: Donald V. Watkins
October 16, 2022
An Editorial Opinion
Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Donald Trump’s bid to allow a special master appointed by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon (Florida) vet more than 100 classified documents that were seized from his Florida home at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022. The documents are at the heart of a criminal investigation into Trump's handling of sensitive government records.
The justices denied an emergency request Trump made to the Supreme Court to lift the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that prevented the special master from reviewing more than 100 documents marked as classified that were among the roughly 11,000 records seized by FBI agents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on 8 August.
There were no publicly noted dissents by any of the nine justices to the decision, which came two days after the U.S. Department of Justice urged them to deny Trump’s request and keep the classified documents out of the hands of the special master.
The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices who were appointed by Trump before he left office in January 2021.
Federal law enforcement agents obtained a court-approved warrant to search Trump’s residence after suspecting that not all classified documents in his possession had been returned after his presidency ended.
FBI agents searched for evidence of potential crimes related to unlawfully retaining national defense information and obstructing a federal investigation.
Trump went to court on August 22nd in a bid to restrict the Department of Justice’s access to the documents as it pursues a criminal investigation. His lawyers shopped the case to Judge Cannon, a judicial nominee who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate after Trump lost the 2020 election.
Options Available to Trump
Trump’s devastating losses in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court signal that the unconditional political loyalty Trump expected from judges he appointed to the federal bench does not exist, except for Judge Cannon. This neophyte judge had no jurisdiction to hear Trump’s request for a special master, but she ruled in his favor out of political loyalty.
Trump appointed 234 federal judges to the bench who were confirmed by the United States Senate. This number includes three associate Supreme Court justices, 54 judges for the United States courts of appeals, and 174 judges for the United States district courts. As evidenced by the 60 or more election contests Trump lost after the 2020 election and the recent court action in the criminal investigation, these Republican judges have largely abandoned him.
Without judicial protection from Trump’s army of federal judges, he will likely be indicted, tried, and convicted on a plethora of federal criminal charges arising out from his conduct in inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection and his retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
The federal criminal justice system is “rigged” against Donald Trump and every other criminal defendant. The federal judges appointed by Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Trump, himself, have chipped away at the basic constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial for accused persons, to the extent that these rights do not exist today. They have been reduced to empty words and phrases on a historical piece of paper written by the “Founding Fathers.” The only option that would save Trump in the federal criminal justice system is the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the Attorney General of the United States to dismiss any criminal charges against him.
Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice would never voluntarily dismiss criminal charges against Donald Trump. There is simply too much evidence that Trump: (a) incited the January 6th insurrection, (b) obstructed justice, (c) suborned perjury, and (d) maintained classified documents at Mar-a-Lago for nefarious purposes.
Only a political hack that Trump appoints to Attorney General would dismiss the charges against him. To effectuate this result, Trump must: (a) stall his criminal trial, if any, until after the 2024 election, (b) run for president and win the 2024 election, and (c) get sworn-in as the 47th president of the United States of America. Once Trump is president again, he can find a bevy of political hacks who, if appointed as Attorney General, would be delighted to dismiss all of the anticipated criminal charges against him.
This is why Trump continues to dominate the political agenda and direction of the Republican Party. Trump must control the Party to ensure that he is its presidential nominee in 2024.
Trump must also win, or steal, the 2024 election for president. If not, Trump must prepare himself to become another “railroaded” defendant in a “rigged” federal criminal justice system, and he must get ready to go to prison for the rest of his life.
This is truly a “do or die” event for Donald Trump, who will use any and all means necessary to avoid prison time.