Former President Donald Trump is unlikely to face a jury trial in New York for at least a year, according to one former U.S. attorney.
On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Trump following an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office into an alleged hush money payment of $130,000 paid by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 presidential election about an affair she claims she had with Trump in 2006.
The former president has denied having an affair with Daniels and has maintained his innocence in the case, accusing prosecutors of engaging in a politically-motivated witch hunt. Prosecutors, however, believe the payment violated campaign finance laws. Trump has responded to the indictment with a flurry of posts on his social media platform Truth Social attacking the district attorney’s office.
Despite those attacks, Trump’s legal team has indicated that he will surrender himself for arraignment in New York City on Tuesday. This is the first time in United States history that a former president has been criminally indicted.
Even with the high-profile nature of the case, some legal experts are stressing that the case is unlikely to move as quickly as some might expect it to. Appearing on MSNBC on Friday night, Marc Agnifilo, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, said that it’s likely that Trump’s case will not go to trial until roughly a year from now, due to the way the New York legal system is set up.
As Agnifilo explained to host Rachel Maddow, the New York State legal system allows for a significant amount of pretrial motions and appeals. This includes the ability for a defense to argue before a judge that the evidence presented to a grand jury was legally insufficient to warrant an indictment, a tactic that Agnifilo said he expects Trump’s legal team to take advantage of.
“I would expect this trial to be maybe a year from now,” Agnifilo said. “I think everyone’s going to be watching it, Judge [Juan] Merchan is not going to want it to just linger, but a year is probably a safe guess for the timeline. Federal cases very often get to trial sooner than that, sometimes six months, eight months.”
Due to this legal structure in New York, the former U.S. attorney said that it’s possible that Trump could end up at trial for a federal indictment before doing so for the charges he is currently contending with, should such an indictment come soon enough. In addition to the investigation in Manhattan, Trump is also facing multiple Department of Justice (DOJ) probes into his handling of classified documents after leaving office and his potential involvement in fomenting the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. The former president has maintained his innocence in those cases as well.
Newsweek reached out to a legal expert for further insight.
Glenn Kirschner, a veteran federal prosecutor and legal analyst, suggested earlier this year a similar timeline for the charges Trump might potentially face in Fulton County, Georgia. District Attorney Fani Willis has been leading an investigation into Trump’s alleged attempts to tamper with the state’s election processes in 2020.
“If I had to guess, once the indictments are returned and Donald Trump is presented in court on that indictment, and he is arraigned, [and]… read the charges that the grand jury has leveled against him, we’ll probably see a trial date set somewhere between six months to a year down the road, but the defense attorney will forever try to file motions to continue to push it further and further down the road,” Kirschner said. “I think one year from the time the indictment drops is a good rule of thumb as to when we’re likely to see a trial.”