Across the U.S., every day, criminal defense attorneys give their clients one piece of advice: shut up. Can Donald Trump make it through a trial without insisting on taking the stand and speaking in his own defense?
His former Attorney General, Bill Barr, says that if he was offering the former president advice in his ongoing cases, it would be that same recommendation because Trump “lacks all self-control.”
If Trump decides to be a witness on his own behalf, skilled questioning could easily lead to the defendant oversharing — and sealing his own conviction.
Trump has certainly shown that he’s capable of pleading the Fifth.
Despite previously describing it as “like the mob” and something only guilty people do, he invoked Fifth Amendment protections after New York Attorney General Letitia James began pursuing him, his businesses, and his three oldest children on allegations of falsifying business records.
Despite his apparent ability to plead the Fifth during a deposition, whether Trump can keep his mouth shut during a trial — both by not taking the stand and not making public statements that become new evidence — remains to be seen.
So far, he hasn’t even been able to make it to arraignment without making public speeches and social media posts attacking the judge, the District Attorney, the witnesses, and the justice system as a whole.
He’s already accused Judge Juan Marchan of illegally coercing former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg into a plea deal that involved testifying against his business.
There have also been violent threats against D.A. Alvin Bragg following some of Trump’s accusatory posts.
He’s made it clear he doesn’t plan to stop talking about the case once he’s arraigned, either — he’s planning an event at Mar-a-Lago, which includes a speech from him, on Tuesday after he goes through the formal process in New York, according to The Hill.
Barr isn’t the only one telling Trump he should learn to control his (figurative) mouth, either.
His closest allies are telling him to chill with social media posts threatening “death and destruction,” since he was called out for posting a composite image in which he appeared to menace Bragg with a baseball bat.
An unidentified individual close to the former president confirmed to Rolling Stone that “some of us” have “cautioned” Trump against giving the D.A. evidence to use against him.
Check out Barr’s warning to Trump below.
Bill Barr on Fox News Sunday says Trump taking the stand in New York would be a "particularly bad idea because he lacks all self control" pic.twitter.com/koLUCiw33K
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 2, 2023
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.