Trump Agonistes / Joon Kim

Jul 13, 2023

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

Listen to the episode here or find the New Thinking for a New World podcast on a platform of your choice (Apple podcastSpotify, Google podcastYoutube, etc).


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.


  1. Edward Morrow

    This was an excellent, clarifying, exposition of the knowable facts and likely courses of action for a historically critical, unprecedented, event that even the best informed, au courant, citizens are scratching their heads about. We’ll-structured questioning! Thank you.

  2. Danna

    I think it’s very suspicious how he’s always getting indicted at this point. I’m starting to think he’s not the problem at all.

  3. Gilbert Rodrigo

    Coming from a country where every dissent voice is muffed, where we can’t even imagine of any trial against any ruling party person, leave alone the Prime Minister, we feel that with all difficulties, the US still stands good in such matter and we wish that Trump’s wrong doings are punished and he be not allowed to campaign in the forthcoming election.

  4. AHMED Fathy Mohamed ELSAYED

    1. The powers of the presidency in US law are broad
    It allows the president to deal with documents outside the scope of authentication restrictions
    As part of the freedom and sensitively of presidential correspondence
    And more options for the president

    This is what Trump acted in accordance with the requirements of the powers granted

    2. The dispute over the extent of unjustifiably misusing the powers granted to the president
    in handling documents

    3. Dropping Trump’s populist performance on the post of president was a grave mistake for Trump and the American presidential system

    Which was supposed to separate between the position of the president and his official performance and between his relations and personal dealings

    4. The US judicial system still suffers from major gaps

    Who was unable to charge the president while he was in office

    5. What Trump did in attacking the Capitol is the basic legal violation attributed to him

    However, it has no real effect and is easy to bypass

    Not the issue of documents and other marginal issues
    which do not have a strong legal basis for prosecution

    6. A group of cases against Trump are being raised simultaneously
    Basically a political process

    It has no legal implications for Trump’s candidacy

    7. If Trump wins the presidency
    Cases will continue to depend on the decisions of the president himself!

    8. Trump’s political performance has changed and evolved a lot for the better


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