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How Trump's trials for 91 felony charges in 4 states could take over his campaign

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR, I'm Tonya Mosley. Every day, sometimes several times a day, the news is dominated by the legal woes of former President Donald Trump. A federal hearing in Florida, a Supreme Court filing in D.C., a judge weighing a case in Georgia, two proceedings in New York. These are just the headlines from last week. As Trump seeks to gain the Republican presidential nomination, he faces 91 felony charges across four states and several lawsuits. The first of four criminal case trials is expected to start on March 25. It will be the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

As The New York Times journalist Alan Feuer writes, Trump's entangled web of criminal and civil cases is moving at a speed that is testing both the fortitude of the judicial system and the public's ability to keep up. Feuer and the Times recently put together a guide laying out all of the legal cases, inquiries and accusations. Feuer writes about crime and criminal justice for The New York Times, covering Trump, the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and criminal cases involving the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, murders and corrupt police officers and politicians. Alan Feuer, welcome back to FRESH AIR.

ALAN FEUER: Thanks for having me.

MOSLEY: Let's start with the latest developments. A trial date has been set for what's being called the New York hush money case. And that trial is set to begin in New York on March 25. Now, this case is related to a sex scandal that happened during the 2016 presidential campaign. Can you remind us of the charges and what Trump is being accused of?

FEUER: Sure. So as a technical matter, the charges are falsifying business records. And those business records relate, as you said, to hush money payments that Trump is accused of having made to a porn star named Stormy Daniels in the run up to the 2016 election in order, essentially, to suppress a news story from coming out that could prove embarrassing to Trump. It was right on the eve of the election. It was right at the time when the Access Hollywood tape came out. And so the case here is going to revolve around the question of whether Trump, with the help of some of his close aides, kind of structured the payments in a way to disguise them and therefore sort of broke these business fraud laws.

MOSLEY: The prosecutor in this case is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and his argument is that Trump made payments and falsified documents for the purposes of hiding this relationship with the American public. Why are some legal experts saying, of the four criminal cases, though, this one is the weakest?

FEUER: Well, so there's a couple of reasons. Like, as a matter of substance, the narrative of this case involving porn stars and payments and the involvement of, like, you know, tabloid magazines, it's got a real kind of salacious feel to it that is just sort of different than the kind of much more serious accusations in the January 6 case of Trump conspiring to overturn a free and fair election. But I actually think that Alvin Bragg is right in the sense that there is an election interference aspect of this case, too, of the Manhattan case as well, because the underlying allegation is, was Trump seeking to tamper with the election by covering up this affair?

As a matter of law, the falsifying business charges in this case are generally and most frequently brought as misdemeanors, right? But the only way to sort of bump them up to a felony is if the falsification aspect is attached to another crime, right? And in this case, that would be sort of the idea of interfering with the election. So trying to make that leap from bumping these charges up from their normal status as misdemeanors to felonies is why some legal experts have looked at this case and seen it as somewhat dubious.

MOSLEY: Right, these types of charges are typically a misdemeanor in the state of New York. Alvin Bragg is not a federal prosecutor. He's a state prosecutor. And I'm really curious about this. So this means that if he is successful in bringing a conviction, Trump won't be able to pardon himself if he wins the presidency. Can you explain that?

FEUER: So I think most people are familiar with the idea of a presidential pardon. And presidential pardons cover only federal crimes, right? So if Trump were to be convicted in this case, he would not have been convicted of a federal crime, he would have been convicted of a state crime. There is a separate issue of whether Trump or any president - former president could pardon themselves, right? Like, that is something that's never been tried and it's never been tested. But what we do know is that state charges just aren't covered under pardon laws.

There would be other problems that a state prosecution might face were Trump to regain the White House, and there's constitutional principles which suggest that federal law kind of reigns supreme over state law. And there are some experts who suggest that this Supremacy Clause, as it's called, of the Constitution would then essentially prohibit state prosecutors pursuing a case against a sitting president. And then there's also a Justice Department memo sitting on file that says that charges can't be brought and prosecutions can't be pursued against sitting presidents either. And, you know, whether or not that applies to state prosecutions as well as federal prosecutions, it's just - all of this is completely uncharted. So we have to sort of wander into these questions with that in mind, that there are guidelines, there are some basic precedents here, but most of this is completely new.

MOSLEY: This trial is supposed to last six weeks. That's what the judge said. They expect for it to last about six weeks. How is that going to intersect with the political calendar? Because the spring before a presidential election is typically when candidates are hitting the campaign trail pretty hard.

FEUER: So starting a trial on March 25 and going six weeks, so then you're into the end of April, you're into sort of, like - who knows? - like, call it mid-May, right? That is, by any normal presidential election calendar, the heart of the primary season. What's going to be interesting in this case, in Trump's case, is Trump may sew up the Republican presidential nomination pretty quickly. And there might not be much of a typical primary season at all, right? And so there might be a sort of - some wiggle room between the legal and the political calendars.

MOSLEY: You know, one of the things I was wondering about - of course, we don't have all of the dates set for the trials and hearings, but are these judges coordinating because Trump can't be everywhere all at once?

FEUER: So the short answer is, no, with one exception that we know of. And that is when the judge in New York, Juan Merchan, set the Manhattan hush money trial date, at a hearing last week, he mentioned that he had been in communication with the judge who was overseeing Trump's federal election interference case in Washington, judge Tanya Chutkan. And that's because if there are any two trials that are likely to bump up against one another on the calendar, it would be those two. And so Merchan just mentioned during the hearing that he had been in communication with Judge Chutkan. But other than that, no. There's nobody - nobody is in control. There's no one person or authority who is, like...

MOSLEY: That's managing all of this. Right. Yeah.

FEUER: Yeah. There's no air traffic control here at all.

MOSLEY: Yeah.

FEUER: So, you know, which just - which makes it all pretty bumpy.

MOSLEY: OK, Alan, let's go to Fulton County, Ga., now, where Trump and 18 of his associates have been indicted for attempts to overturn the state's results and subvert the will of the voters. And last week, there was an argument on whether there is a conflict of interest because of a romantic relationship between the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Can you briefly explain what happened in that hearing?

FEUER: Sure. So that two-day hearing was designed to figure out not only the details of the relationship that existed between Fani Willis and Nathan Wade, which they admitted to, but whether or not their financial dealings - right? - between the two of them constituted some sort of improper behavior in which money from the county that was used to fund the prosecution was somehow - made its way back into Fani Willis' pockets, and whether or not the romantic relationship that they had created an insuperable problem to them sort of performing their duties as prosecutors.

MOSLEY: And we should note, it is not illegal for them to be dating. So that's not a violation.

FEUER: Absolutely not. No, no, no, of course not. No, no, no.

MOSLEY: Yeah.

FEUER: The judge is going to have to make a decision if Trump and the other defendants in this case are being unfairly biased by the financial relationship that Fani Willis and Nathan Wade had surrounding the romantic relationship, right? And so what you had was an extraordinary proceeding in which Fani Willis took the stand and very firmly defended her conduct and Nathan Wade's conduct. Nathan Wade took the stand. And other people took the stand. And some of the issues that got hashed out were, when did this affair begin - and the nature of the relationship and the nature of the their financial dealings.

And look. At the end of the day, the judge may move to disqualify Fani Willis from this case. I don't think that that is necessarily a likely thing that's going to happen. But the defense was successful in dragging this case so far away from the central issues that the indictment raised - which was, did Trump and his co-defendants overturn a free and fair election in Georgia? - and brought it down to sort of the most intrusive, personal and financial details of the people who filed the case that you can imagine.

At one point, Fani Willis, responding to questions from a defense attorney, said, look, I'm not the one on trial here. You know, the defendants are on trial for having interfered with the 2020 election. And, you know, we'll see what the result of the actual outcome is. But, you know, look. The outcome here could be, you know, in the worst case for the prosecution that Fani Willis is disqualified from running this case.

MOSLEY: If she is disqualified, though, how easy will it be to find another prosecutor and how might that delay this case?

FEUER: So that's the exact question. So the process here would be if Fani Willis is disqualified, a state board would ultimately select a replacement prosecutor. And that state board could take a long time in coming to a decision. That state board could pick a prosecutor who really has no interest in pursuing the case. So you could have, ultimately, someone put in charge of this case who could effectively tank it or you could simply run out the clock and delay, delay, delay, which has been, you know, one of Trump's central strategies across all four cases. Now, I'm not convinced that that is likely to happen, but certainly that's within the realm of what could happen.

MOSLEY: All right. We're going to talk about some of the other cases just after this short break. If you're just joining us, my guest is Alan Feuer, who covers extremism and political violence for The New York Times. He's talking with us about the mounting criminal cases against former President Donald Trump and all of the moving parts as we head towards the presidential election. We'll continue our conversation after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. And today we're talking to New York Times reporter Alan Feuer about the mounting cases against former President Donald Trump, who faces 91 felony charges across four states and several lawsuits. Feuer writes about crime and criminal justice for The New York Times, covering cases involving the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, murderers and corrupt police officers and politicians.

Before we move on to some of the other cases, Alan, I want to briefly talk about the ruling last week that ordered Trump and his companies to pay a fine of nearly $355 million for overstating his net worth to investors. Can you briefly catch us up on the charges in the ruling in this case?

FEUER: Sure. So that judgment - which actually could be significantly larger once interest is added in, upwards of, you know, $450 million or so - stemmed from a civil lawsuit that was brought against Trump by the New York state attorney general accusing him essentially of years of fraudulent behavior in which he manipulated the value of his real estate holdings in order to get favorable terms from banks. And just on the matter of, you know, the facts here, the judge in this case, Arthur Engoron, even, you know, before the trial began, had made a finding that Trump was already liable for fraud. Then they held this long trial in which there were a number of witnesses that kind of, you know, drilled down in more detail on other questions of facts and law - right? - which buildings and properties had their values inflated and ultimately how much money Trump was going to have to disgorge - that's the term of art - back to the state for having falsified the value of his real estate portfolio.

And so this case, as many people have pointed out, really kind of struck at the two things that sort of hurt Trump most - his pocketbook and his reputation as a billionaire businessman. The judgment here of hundreds of millions of dollars was huge. I mean, it's a lot of money. And moreover, the judge, Engoron, spared Trump very little in his ruling - went after him, you know, said that he was remorseless about any of the findings that he made and really sort of took Trump to task and Trump's reputation as a businessman to task in his decision.

MOSLEY: We still don't know the full worth of Trump. We don't know - we know what he has said he has as far as his wealth, but he has 30 days to pay this fine. What happens if he doesn't?

FEUER: Well, ultimately, the state attorney general, Letitia James, just actually on Wednesday said that she would go after Trump's properties and seize his assets if he didn't pay. But that is the most severe consequence that is somewhere down the road. Most immediately, Trump will seek to appeal this judgment and have it reduced. In order to do that, however, he has to post a bond for the amount of the judgment while the appeal goes on. And one of the provisions of the decision is that Trump is not permitted to use the New York State banking system to take a loan out for three years. So he has to find a lender somewhere who will post - help him post that bond, or he's got to dig into his own pocketbook and come up with the money on his own, which - some of my colleagues don't believe that he's got that much cash on hand that he could post, like, $450 million at one shot. And so it'll - it's going to get complicated for him to appeal this judgment with this bond.

MOSLEY: Right. I mean, he's already been ordered to pay more than $83 million to E. Jean Carroll in that defamation case, in addition to 5 million from an earlier verdict. I want to put this in a larger context. You hit on it, but Trump won't be able to get a loan from a New York bank. But does this - how will this impact his ability to get loans or run businesses outside of New York? How will he look to other banks with this ruling in his ability to get loans from other places?

FEUER: I mean, that's a great question, and that sort of falls outside the area of my expertise. But any bank that is part of the New York State banking system is off-limits to him. Also, he is not allowed to essentially hold a managerial position in any New York corporation, including his own, the Trump Organization, for three years. So his ability to go out there and round up money quickly is - it's severely limited.

MOSLEY: And the same restrictions apply to his adult sons for a two-year period, right?

FEUER: That's correct.

MOSLEY: Let's now talk a little bit about January 6. Can you remind us of the charges in this case?

FEUER: The charges in the election interference case in Washington are essentially three intersecting conspiracies to, one, disrupt the certification of the election that took place on January 6, 2021, at the Capitol, two, to what's called defraud the United States by this fake elector scheme and also a conspiracy to deprive millions of Americans of the right to have their vote counted. And so it's, like, a very all-encompassing look at all the machinations that Trump and his allies took in the run up to January 6 to subvert the normal course of democracy, culminating, obviously, in the attack on the Capitol that took place that day after Trump's speech near the White House.

MOSLEY: Our guest today is New York Times reporter Alan Feuer. We'll be right back after a short break. I'm Tonya Mosley, and this is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANGELA YOFFE AND VADIM GLUZMAN'S "SPIEGEL IM SPIEGEL")

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR, I'm Tonya Mosley. And if you're just joining us, my guest is Alan Feuer, who covers extremism and political violence for The New York Times. He's talking with us about the mounting number of criminal cases against former President Donald Trump and all of the moving parts as we head towards the presidential election. Feuer writes about crime and criminal justice, covering cases involving the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, murders and corrupt police officers and politicians.

So earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution. And Trump has sought a review from the Supreme Court. Can you explain what he's asking the Supreme Court to review?

FEUER: To back up, the ruling is, does Donald Trump enjoy absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for things he did while he was president, right? That's the central question that's hanging in the air. And so the court hasn't yet decided whether it will review that issue. The court could look back at the decision by the federal appeals court in Washington and say - you know what? - those three judges, wow, they nailed it. There's nothing more that we can add to this decision. You know, we're not even going to touch this case, and we're going to let that decision stand, right?

They could decide to hear the case, get briefings, hold arguments, and they could make their own decision on that really important question of presidential power. And if they decide to hear the case, they could hear it quickly. They could set up a fast calendar for filings and arguments, or they could take their time. Each one of those separate options is going to have severe and very different consequences on the future of the January 6 trial in Washington.

MOSLEY: Right. But the Supreme Court is on its own deadline. Like, they don't have a deadline for a response. It could happen at any time.

FEUER: So technically, Trump has gone to the Supreme Court to ask the justices to keep the underlying criminal case on hold while he pursues his appeal of the immunity issue, right? And this gets back to the importance of, you know, his obsession with delay, delay, delay. He wants that case frozen in place while the court even mulls whether to take the case and hear it. And so the ultimate resolution and the ultimate schedule of the January 6 case in D.C. is going to effectively hang on what the Supreme Court does next. And they could make their decision literally at any moment. I expect it to be at some point this week.

And there's essentially, like, three or four ways that they could respond to Trump's request for a stay, a pause, in the underlying case. And depending on what the Supreme Court does will decide whether the January 6 case goes to trial in Washington in, let's say, mid-May, whether it goes to trial in Washington in July, or whether it doesn't go to trial until after the presidential election is held and resolved. And it's really in the hands of the court what they do next.

MOSLEY: Let's talk a little bit about the classified documents case. So Trump faces 40 counts related to keeping sensitive government documents after he left office and his refusal to return them. Can you remind us the details of this case and these charges?

FEUER: There's essentially two parts to the classified documents case. Trump has been charged with illegally holding on to highly sensitive, super secret national security records after he left office, many of which were found at his residence and club down in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. And then he is also charged with conspiring with two of his aides down at Mar-a-Lago with essentially obstructing the government's repeated efforts to get those sensitive documents back. And so you've got, like - one part of it is just, these are the documents that he had and that the government found in his possession. And then there was this plot - right? - by the government's reckoning, to kind of move the documents around and hide them and, you know, sort of obstruct justice along the way. Those are the two parts of that case.

MOSLEY: OK, if I have this correctly, one of the complications around this case is the records themselves - right? - as evidence, on who has access, because there are national security sensitivities around them. Is that right?

FEUER: Yeah, you know, the government has described these documents, not in detail, because they are very secret. But they have said they are among the most secret documents, containing the most guarded secrets that the nation has, stuff about military plans against adversaries and nuclear secrets. That kind of stuff. Even now, though, we don't know in detail what's in these papers.

MOSLEY: There's also tension around the defense team's access to the names of witnesses who would be called to testify. Can you explain this a little bit more?

FEUER: Sure. So this is a recent development in the case. Trump's lawyers obviously know who the witnesses are who are going to, you know, testify at trial. That's just a normal part of the back-and-forth of a trial, right? The government hands evidence over to the defense, it's called discovery. They look at it, they go, OK, here's the scope of the case. Here are the people that are going to testify, and here's how we're going to craft our defense against these witnesses. So the weird thing that Trump is doing now in this case is he is seeking to make public, in public court documents, filings in the case, the names of 24 witnesses, which is just - it's weird. It's not done.

There is a protective order in place in this case specifically designed to keep, you know, the names of these witnesses from being revealed. And so the judge in this case initially made a ruling that was a little odd, saying, like, OK, sure. If you want to use the names of these witnesses in your public filings, go for it. And the government, I mean, lost its mind. And so there is now a back-and-forth battle over, hey, you're really going to let these witnesses' names be revealed? That's just not done. It's crazy. And we're right in the middle of that fight, so we'll see what - and part of its argument, I should say, the government made the claims that these witnesses, if their names are revealed, will face threats, harassment, intimidation, as, let's not forget, many people involved in these criminal cases against Donald Trump have faced. There have been countless examples of judges, prosecutors, witnesses, a judicial clerk being harassed and intimidated because they are involved in these prosecutions against Trump. And so the government is concerned yet again, in the documents case here, that that could happen to these 24 witnesses.

MOSLEY: You mentioned the judge, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon. Cannon was appointed by Trump, and so a lot of heat has been towards her, how she's handling this case. Some legal experts have accused her of making questionable decisions in favor of Trump. Courts are not supposed to be partisan, but, as we know, Trump, during his time as president, appointed a significant number of judges to the bench who are conservative. I mean, what are some things you're watching out for regarding partisanship and whether that will play a role in the outcome of these cases?

FEUER: Look, Judge Cannon made a really weird decision in this case, even before the indictment was brought. And it brought a whole lot of scrutiny on her and on questions of her fairness and sort of questions of partisanship. The way that she has proceeded since the case was indicted and now it's, like, on the normal course, there have been a couple of odd decisions she has made along the way, but I don't think she has yet really crossed the line, even with this witness issue. The government asked her to reconsider her decision, and she might reconsider that decision.

That said, I think there will be - in her case in particular, there will be two decisions she will have to make in the relatively near future that will really kind of suggest where her head is. One of those decisions gets back to something you mentioned earlier, which is how the very sensitive classified documents in this case are handled, right? The other involves the timing of the trial. So on March 1, there will be a hearing down in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she will essentially reset the trial date and redo the whole calendar for this case. And if she decides in early March to set this case for trial after the election, that will be a significant decision. And so the other decision she will make about how to handle the classified document, is, like - it's very technical, but it will also be an indication of her sort of positioning on this case.

But in the broadest sense - look, federal judges are all appointed by a president at some point, right? That's just the way the system works. And just because one judge is appointed by a certain president doesn't mean that they are, de facto, all decisions they make favor that person. It's just - it's a heightened situation because, yet again, we've never been in a position like this before - right? - where a president who appointed a judge is directly sitting in that judge's courtroom, and the decisions the judge makes directly affects, you know, that person's future. That is what is driving all the heat and the tension here.

MOSLEY: Let's take a short break. If you're just joining us, my guest is Alan Feuer, who covers extremism and political violence for The New York Times. He's talking with us about the mounting legal and criminal cases against former President Donald Trump, and all the moving parts as we head toward the presidential election. We'll continue our conversation after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLT VAUGHN'S "BITTER SUITE")

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. Today, we're talking to New York Times reporter Alan Feuer about the mounting number of cases against former President Donald Trump, who faces 91 felony charges across four states and several lawsuits. Feuer writes about crime and criminal justice for The New York Times, covering cases involving the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, murders and corrupt police officers and politicians.

I do want to go back just a little bit regarding the sensitive documents. Can you briefly explain for us what the bigger challenges are - like, how they will use these documents?

FEUER: So the tension involving the classified material is this. How do you balance our national security, right? We don't want the secrets contained in these documents to be willy-nilly revealed at a public trial. But at the same time, if Donald Trump has been accused of illegally holding on to them then, like, his legal team has to learn about them. There has to be some way for him...

MOSLEY: For them to determine - yes.

FEUER: ...To be fairly tried, right?

MOSLEY: Yeah.

FEUER: So the balance here is how much gets publicized in these documents, because that's the way a public trial works, and how much needs to be essentially withheld - right? - redacted out of the public sphere during the trial to protect national security? And guess what? There's a process for this. There's a law. It's called the Classified Information Procedures Act, and it's put in place to balance those two separate equities, right? And so the one weird thing that is going on with Judge Cannon and the handling of these classified documents is the normal process is the government, as the, quote-unquote, "owner" of these documents, looks at them and says, gee, this document says it's - I'm making this up. This is a plan to invade North Korea. And here's how many battalions it will require, and here's how many aircraft carriers it will acquire. And for the purposes of trying Donald Trump, you don't need all those sensitive details. You can just tell the jury the defendant was in possession of a highly sensitive plan to invade a foreign country, right? And that, like, gets the point across.

So they want - the government is going through, basically redacting all of those super-sensitive details. And Trump wants - basically he wants not only access to all of the details. He wants to have the government post on the public docket its arguments for why this stuff should be so secret. And it's just not done, you know? So that's - so essentially there's a struggle over how much information should all of these three defendants get about the classified documents in order to prepare their defense and how much will ultimately be sort of revealed at trial. Those are the key issues here.

MOSLEY: You know, the biggest question that most people have is how all of this will impact the presidential election because these trials, in some cases, could very well be happening right as we are voting for president. And the court of public opinion will weigh heavily in this election, as we know. There was just a town hall where Donald Trump compared his legal problems to the plight of Alexei Navalny, which is a strategy. While - I'm just wondering from you, as you look at the court docket, as you see things move through, what are you watching for over the next few weeks and months as we get closer to the presidential election?

FEUER: Well, look. I think the next most important event will be settling the question of when the federal election interference trial in Washington will take place - if it will happen before the election, if it will happen after the election, right? Does that trial take place in, let's say, July during the Republican National Convention, where Trump may, you know, be nominated as his party's choice and then into the absolute homestretch of the general election? - because if that is going to happen, it's going to get a little tumultuous because Trump will be in the courtroom for two to three months. He will not be able to conduct a normal campaign. He is likely to bring his campaign to the courthouse.

And so on a lunch break, when the court session is over for the day, before court begins for the day, he is likely to avail himself of the opportunity to talk to the global media, standing outside the courthouse with a bank of television cameras. And he's going to essentially bring politics to the courthouse, and it's just going to get weird. There's no way around it if that's the way this goes. So these are the things that I think about, you know, as options for what could be coming. And frankly, we're going to know very soon how that's all going to shake out.

MOSLEY: If you're just joining us, my guest is Alan Feuer, who covers extremism and political violence for The New York Times. He's talking with us about the mounting criminal cases against former President Donald Trump and all of the moving parts as we head towards the presidential election. We'll continue our conversation after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAY-Z SONG, "'03 BONNIE AND CLYDE (FEAT. BEYONCE KNOWLES)")

MOSLEY: This is FRESH AIR. And today we're talking to New York Times reporter Alan Feuer about the mounting cases against former President Donald Trump, who faces 91 felony charges across four states and several lawsuits. Feuer writes about crime and criminal justice for The New York Times covering cases involving the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, murderers and corrupt police officers and politicians.

Since Trump can appeal any of these verdicts, at any point, is there a possibility that he could be convicted before the election in November?

FEUER: In short, absolutely. He could be convicted in the hush money trial in Manhattan by - I don't know - mid-May, right? Depending on how the timing of the January 6 case in Washington plays out, he could be convicted of those federal conspiracy charges to overturn the election by right before the election - October or earlier. He could absolutely be convicted of criminal charges before the election. Now, he'll have his right to appeal, and those appeals will no doubt extend past the election. But there is a distinct possibility that the Republicans could have a twice-over convict running for president.

MOSLEY: And if that is the case, I think that is the - this is the big question, is whether, as a convicted felon, he can still become president.

FEUER: The answer is yes. None of the charges that Trump is facing have what you could think of as a disqualification clause to them, right? So as a matter of law, he could be convicted on all of the charges he is facing and would still legally be able to run for president. There is some polling - you know, opinion polling - that suggests that he would lose a - you know, a significant amount of support, an important amount of support, were he to be convicted. And so, as a political matter, the convictions could themselves be some sort of deciding or important factor in all of this. But as a matter of law, no, they won't affect his ability to run for president at all.

MOSLEY: And I know that it is different in every single one of these cases, but say he becomes president and these cases are drawn out well beyond November. And then there's a verdict, and he's found guilty. What happens to all of the cases if he becomes president? What does he have the potential to do?

FEUER: So if Trump becomes president, he'll have the power to order his Justice Department - right? - his new attorney general really just to drop any remaining federal charges that he faces, right? Any of the federal cases - if he's been convicted in them, he will, at least in theory, have the power to try to self-pardon. That's never been tested, as we discussed, but he could certainly try. And then in the state cases, while he won't have any direct control over the prosecutors because they don't work for him, there will be some legal means at his disposal that he could either freeze cases that have not yet been resolved until after he is out of office again or, you know, essentially seek to, you know, delay them from going forward.

MOSLEY: Another question for you - if the Supreme Court rules in Trump's favor - that as president, he is immune from any criminal prosecution - what are the implications of that, and what could that mean if he becomes president again?

FEUER: Well, look, I mean, if the Supreme Court rules in Trump's favor, then the case in Washington is over. As a matter of law, it would just end. It's done. The indictment would be dismissed. It's over. It could have ripple impacts on some of the other cases too, right? It could certainly affect the case in Georgia where they too have filed an attack on the case with - on the grounds of immunity. The other two cases - let's not forget, before 2016, he's not president. How do you claim presidential immunity when you're not president? The same could be said for the Mar-a-Lago documents case, right? This took place after he was out of office. Look, anything is possible. I don't expect - and I don't think most people expect - that the Supreme Court will rule for Trump on the merits on the immunity issue. I think the central issue is how fast that appeal is resolved because that will be - I think will be the deciding factor of when that case goes to trial.

MOSLEY: Alan Feuer, thank you so much for this conversation.

FEUER: Thank you.

MOSLEY: Alan Feuer is a reporter with The New York Times.

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MOSLEY: If you'd like to catch up on FRESH AIR interviews you missed, check out our podcast. You'll find my recent interview with Jeffrey Wright about his long career in Hollywood that led him to the new film "American Fiction." Also, my interview with writer Lucy Sante about transitioning in her late 60s. Find FRESH AIR wherever you listen to podcasts.

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(SOUNDBITE OF VALENTINA LISITSA'S "THE HOURS: MORNING PASSAGES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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