Donald Trump is trying to delay his criminal trials so that he can exonerate himself if reelected president, a former federal prosecutor who was fired by the ex-president has said.
Preet Bharara said that Trump likely has three options to avoid his two federal trials: pardoning himself, appointing a favorable attorney general, or claiming federal immunity.
Speaking on his Spotify podcast Stay Tuned With Preet, Bharara said that just as the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to a speedy trial, “the public and the government” should also expect a speedy trial, free from unnecessary delays.
He said “time is ticking” in Trump’s two federal cases and it might not be possible to prosecute the former president if he is reelected.
“By my estimation, there are at least three ways that Donald Trump can avoid accountability or any kind of trial altogether potentially if the trials don’t happen before the  election and if he becomes president again,” Bharara said.
In the federal cases, relating to election interference and the hoarding of classified documents, Trump could simply pardon himself when he becomes president, Bharara said. This option would be controversial and likely litigated in court, the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York said on his podcast.
The second option, according to Bharara, would be for Trump to appoint a favorable attorney general to drop the federal charges. This was an option that Trump “almost certainly” would employ if elected president in 2024, Bharara said.
The third option is to claim immunity from prosecution, based on constitutional protections for a president for acts committed in office, Bharara said.
Bharara said this option could also be used to defeat the state cases Trump faces—over election interference charges in Georgia and alleged hush payments to adult actress Stormy Daniels in New York. The former federal prosecutor said this option had already helped Trump with the Mueller report, which investigated alleged links between Trump and the Russian government. The report did not reach a conclusion about possible obstruction of justice by Trump, citing a Justice Department guideline prohibiting the federal indictment of a sitting president.
Trump has repeatedly denied all charges against him and called them a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Bharara said that Trump was “certainly going to try” to delay the criminal process until he can become president.
He also said that “without question,” prosecutors will not conclude the four trials—which includes the January 6 Capitol attack investigation—before the 2024 presidential election and the public will have to wait to find out if prosecutors will get through any of the four trials.
In March 2017, Bharara made national news when he announced that he had been fired by the Trump administration.
“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara wrote on X, then Twitter, at the time.
Presidents often order appointees of the previous administration to resign but the decision by Trump to replace over 40 of them made headlines.
Bharara was previously featured on Time magazine’s cover as the man “busting Wall Street” by indicting big-name financiers.
When he was sacked, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement: “President Trump’s abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove over 40 U.S. attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government.”