But Donald Trump charges in the Mar-a-Lago document case in Florida, he will face a much tougher fight if the target letter he received on Sunday continues to indict him for trying to subvert the 2020 election.
Those charges are certain to be brought in Washington, DC, where juries have convicted one defendant on January 6th.
“If I were Donald J. Trump, the last place in the world I would want to try is Washington, DC other than Atlanta, Georgia,” Samuel Shamansky, the attorney for rioter Dustin Thompson who was convicted on Jan. 6, told the Daily Beast.
Shamansky said he based his opinion partly on pretrial jury selection and the trial itself, but mostly on speaking to the jury after it returned a guilty verdict. The jurors made it clear that they resented the storming of the Capitol.
“It was more of a personal violation, a personal situation,” Shamansky said. “People from outside the DC area with an anti-DC agenda took over their city and trashed the Capitol building and attacked their officials, all in the name of stealing a fake election.”
Thompson testified at the trial that he traveled from Ohio to Washington on January 6 after being convinced by Trump’s claims on various media platforms that the election was rigged.
“The way he was saying it was believable to me,” Thompson testified during the 2022 trial. “I mean, I believed him.”
The retired pest exterminator told the jury he attended the Ellipse rally and joined the crowd when Trump told them to proceed to the Capitol.
“If the president is almost ordering you to do something, I felt obligated to do that,” Thompson said. “I had to do something to get his appreciation or, like, approval.”
Shamansky surrendered to Trump and asked the judge to allow the United States Marshals to help serve him. The judge refused and told Shamansky to use a civilian process server. It was the result that Shamansky expected when he asked the marshals.
“On April 1, 2022, while attempting to legally serve former President Donald J. Trump at the Mar-a-Lago Club, one of Mr. Thompson’s private process servers was turned [by] armed person,” Shamansky reported in court papers. “According to the service returned to Counsel1 , the process server believed this person to be a government employee, specifically an agent of the United States Secret Service.”
But as it has been shown twice since, Trump’s Secret Service data cannot protect him from impeachment. The most the agents can do is escort him as he is being arrested, fingerprinted, and then processed.
More insight into what Trump would face in Washington, DC, comes from attorney Norman Pattis, who represented Joseph Biggs, one of five Proud Boys charged in a horrific conspiracy related to Jan. 6. Pattis told The Daily Beast that more than half of the prospective jurors he interviewed sympathized with the Black Lives Matter movement. Almost everyone had attended a protest at some point, although none of them had attended a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.
“It’s a scary panel,” he said. “It took us 12 days to select a jury and we didn’t like what we had.”
All five Proud Boys were convicted, although the jurors rejected several cases and appear to have been very careful in weighing the evidence.
“I’m not saying you can’t get a fair trial there,” Pattis said.
But he pointed out that the nation’s capital is hardly an ideal venue for defenders who rant about the “deep state” and promise to “drain the swamp”.
“D.C. is a company town and government is its business,” he said.
Pattis suggests that Trump would seek a change of venue.
“And it will fail,” Pattis said, citing current guidelines for such a switch.
That doesn’t mean Trump will get anything other than a fair trial. But given the evidence against him, a fair trial could lead to a conviction. And, many felonies have mandatory minimum sentences.
Thompson got three years for going with the crowd and getting so excited that he stole a bunch of booze and a coat rack from the Senate side of the Capitol. Pattis thinks Biggs will get between 10 and 12 years for his part in the rebellion conspiracy.
Right now, Trump just hit a target letter. But if he were to be indicted and then convicted, it’s hard to see how even being a former president could save a prime mover from a serious sentence.