A legal expert has retracted his prediction that former President Donald Trump would escape trial if the federal election was subverted, saying this week’s developments make him “look gloriously wrong”.
Elie Mystal, an attorney and legal reporter for The Nation, said he read a transcript of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision Monday to set the trial date for March 4.
“I’m beginning to worry that I’ll have to file an official notice with the relevant authorities that I was wrong,” he said wrote in a thread about X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.
“My position was that Trump will not be tried before the RNC. Then he will be named as their candidate, and a trial against him before the election will be almost impossible. BUT Chutkan is doing what I thought no judge would do: treat Trump like a normal citizen.”
Mystal noted that the start date could still be pushed back, but even if the trial were pushed back to May, “there’s still plenty of time to try to get a conviction before the RNC in July,” and the judge “didn’t appear.” tending to oversize the massive delays the defense is calling for.”
Chutkan declined hearing dates requested by both the prosecution and the defense.
Special Counsel Jack Smith had proposed a January trial, while Trump’s team had called for the trial to begin in April 2026, more than a year after the next presidential election.
Chutkan said Trump must prioritize the process and she will not change the schedule because of his professional commitments. She noted that when a professional athlete is on trial, “it would be inappropriate to set a trial date that fits her schedule.”
Mystal said Chutkan’s decision caused him to completely reconsider his legal analysis.
“I could change the targets and say he’s *imprisoned* after the election (because he won’t be imprisoned due to appeals),” Mystal continued. “But I didn’t even think he was going to be brought to justice, and boy hey, Chutkan’s trying to get me to owe a few dinners across the country.”
“I could still be right, but she makes me look wrong. Gloriously wrong,” he added.
Trump faces four criminal trials scheduled to begin next year. He was charged with a total of 91 felonies on two counts at the federal level and two counts at the state level.
He is currently the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of his closest rivals by double digits in the polls.