Litman:Trump’s candidacy complicates a potential criminal case against him, but it can’t protect him from a civil case, either.
The Justice Department has been trying to protect Donald Trump with a raft of criminal cases, some of them involving his foreign business dealings. But those charges have been unsuccessful, and his lawyer continues to work to try to have the New York criminal case dismissed or thrown out altogether, he said.
“He’s not going to leave this race because he thinks Trump is going to be indicted,” Litman said.
The biggest legal hurdle for the Republican nominee for president was when the New York prosecutors charged him with tax evasion, according to Litman. Then, in October, the judge in the case dismissed Trump’s counterclaim against the prosecutors, he said.
“The judge determined that he didn’t have an ability to defend [Trump] and that’s why the case was dismissed,” Litman said. “If [Trump] had been successful in the New York case, Trump would never be president of the United States or a candidate for president.”
That meant that Trump would have to get involved in a case that could get him into trouble. And that’s what the New York case now boils down to: not being able to defend Trump when he faces federal charges in New York.
That’s the challenge of criminal defense: If you can’t defend yourself, you have to turn yourself in, because you can’t try to win the case yourself. There’s no way they could convict Trump after turning him over to the Manhattan district attorney.
The latest news out of the Trump campaign is that he is still planning to plead the Fifth when asked point-blank if he’s guilty. That might be the most definitive way to close the case, and it might give Trump a way to stay out of trouble. Litman said he doesn’t like the idea, but that’s the law in New York.
“If he refuses to answer [questions] at the time, he can go to jail for contempt of court as a convicted person,” Litman said. “I’d hope he wouldn’t do that, but if you’re in a criminal proceeding and you’re not willing to answer questions, then I guess you have to go to jail.”
When asked if Trump plans to challenge his criminal cases on Fifth Amendment grounds, Litman said he doesn