Trump heads for court but will want to delay trial until after 2024 election

Donald Trump is about to become the first former US president to face criminal federal charges and if he is found guilty he could face 20 years in prison, Dan Rivers reports

Donald Trump will be arriving at court today for one of the biggest battles of his turbulent life.

Charged with 37 counts of taking classified documents from the White House and then lying about it, he is facing an indictment which is detailed and devastating.

Today's proceedings will be a formality, but the key question is when will this trial eventually be held?

If he can deploy his normal strategy of delaying and obfuscating, he is likely to be able to kick the can down the road beyond the November 5 election in 2024.

If he is successful, these charges - and the others which will inevitably follow - may become a centre piece of his campaign.

Donald Trump is likely to claim he is being pursued by the 'deep state'. Credit: AP

He will claim he is being pursued by the 'deep state', which is trying to prevent him from returning to the White House.

'It's all a witch-hunt' is almost a cliche because he has used the phrase so often. Expect him to double-down on this rhetoric, casting himself as the outsider, taking on sinister forces in Washington who are seeking to rig the next election.

So far, this strategy is working, delivering Trump a bump in the polls against his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and bringing in millions of extra dollars in campaign donations.

Don't forget, US elections are all about cash. The more you can raise, the better shot you have of staying the distance and winning the nomination.

But imagine another scenario, where Trump is convicted and possibly jailed before the election.

He said over the weekend he would not withdraw from the race in any circumstance.

If you take him at his word - you can ask why you should from a man who has repeatedly lied! - it would imply he would continue his campaign even from jail.

If he went on to win, it would set the stage for a democratic and constitutional crisis in America, which would shake the Republic to its foundations.

So timing in this case is everything.

I suspect, Trump will defy Special Counsel Jack Smith's stated desire for a speedy trial and do everything he can to slow down proceedings, using the threat of his conviction as a rallying cry with his base.

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