Donald Trump continues to make history: he is the only American president (serving or former) ever to have been criminally indicted. He already faces two separate indictments and trials, with the strong possibility of one or two more before the end of the year. That would set a record for presidential indictments that will last a long time.
A former president standing trial is extraordinary on its own; a former president standing trial while running for re-election is terra incognita for the U.S. judicial system. On the one hand, it is a fundamental principle of American jurisprudence that all citizens are equal under the law. On the other hand, how can judges and prosecutors balance a candidate’s free speech rights and the need to campaign, with the discipline of a courtroom? Moreover, think about the consequences. What happens if Trump is convicted? What if he loses the trial, wins the election, and is imprisoned? Can he take office?
(Spoiler alert: yes!)
As they say, it’s complicated. Joon Kim, experienced prosecutor and former acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, unravels some of those complications. His brief in this episode of New Thinking for a New World is not the politics of Trump’s unprecedented situation, but the legal and judicial aspects of the mess that the former president has created for himself and for the rest of us.
What do you think? Should Trump stand trial? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK BY COMMENTING BELOW
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Joon H. Kim is currently a partner at the international law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, focusing on white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations, regulatory enforcement, as well as commercial litigation and arbitration. Joon has enjoyed a distinguished legal career of over 25 years reaching the highest levels of government and private practice.
From March 2017 to January 2018, he served as the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. As the most senior federal law enforcement officer in the district, he oversaw all criminal and civil litigation conducted on behalf the United States and supervised the work of about 220 Assistant U.S. Attorneys handling a wide range of criminal and civil cases. Before becoming Acting U.S. Attorney, Mr. Kim served in various leadership positions in the office, including Deputy U.S. Attorney, Chief of the Criminal Division, and Chief Counsel to the U.S. Attorney.
He has practiced as a litigator and white-collar defense lawyer for many years before and after his time at the Department of Justice. Joon is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.