WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — In the hours following reports that former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York County, a political and legal analyst spoke with DC News Now about the impact it may have and what’s next.
Both political analyst Stephen Farnsworth from the University of Mary Washington and legal analyst Bernarda Villalona, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, said Thursday’s news was “historic.”
This was the first time a former president has been indicted on criminal charges.
Farnsworth described the moment as “unprecedented” and opined on the decision Republicans will have to make as Trump seeks the 2024 nomination.
“If they stick with Donald Trump, this will be a very, very high-risk strategy for 2020 for swing voters are not inclined to look the other way in the same way that deep red Republicans would,” Farnsworth said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet announced whether or not he will be running, but he is widely expected to be an alternative to Trump.
“[DeSantis] offers the opportunity to be Trump without the Trump scandals in terms of the sort of Trump-style politics particularly you know how combative he is, but that hasn’t really caught on,” Farnsworth said.
Meanwhile, Farnsworth said Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin may not run for president, but this could play a role.
“Though it does seem like he is less interested in running for president compared to a month or two ago, perhaps this situation will change his calculations,” he said.
Youngkin responded to the indictments via Twitter, writing: “It is beyond belief that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted a former President and current presidential candidate for pure political gain. Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America. The left’s continued attempts to weaponize our judicial system erode people’s faith in the American justice system and it needs to stop.”
Meanwhile, Villalona described the legal process by which Trump and his attorneys will endure.
“When he does surrender, he will be fingerprinted and get a mug shot and also be assigned a New York state identification number which is assigned to anyone who is arrested and processed,” she said.
After Trump’s surrender will be an arraignment, where the former president will be informed of the charges against him and be able to plead guilty or not guilty.
Assuming he pleads not guilty — if and when the case goes to trial, Villalona described the differences between an indictment and a guilty verdict.
“In terms of the burden — the Grand Jury is by a preponderance of evidence meaning that probable cause, a reasonable cause, to believe that a crime was committed and Donald Trump was a person who committed it,” she said. “It’s completely different than a trial where you have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”