Former US attorney general says Trump should ‘serve time’ if convicted

Growing number of US legal experts say holding Trump accountable for Jan 6 is necessary

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 20 August 2023 22:26 BST
Donald Trump indicted for fourth time

Donald Trump already faces prison time for his latest criminal indictment stemming from the effort to overturn the 2020 election, but now a former US attorney general is arguing that he should face that same potential punishment at the federal level.

Alberto Gonzales, who served as US attorney general for two years under George W Bush, said this weekend that should Mr Trump be convicted on any of the four counts brought against him by special counsel Jack Smith over the campaign to alter the election results, the ex-president should be sent to prison.

“If in fact he’s convicted of the crimes charged by Jack Smith and the Department of Justice …yeah, I think he should serve time, quite frankly,” he said on Friday during an interview with MSNBC host and former Biden White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Mr Gonzales’s statement is notable because it could illuminate how the Department of Justice plans to, or at the very least could plan to, approach the sentencing phase of Mr Trump’s prosecution. His trial is not likely to begin until next year, while the presidential election is in full swing.

Complicating the issue, Mr Trump remains the de facto frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

None of the four criminal counts brought by the DoJ in regards to January 6 and the election results-tampering effort by the Trump campaign carry mandatory minimum sentences; they could very well result in prison time, however, should the DoJ set a sentencing recommendation higher than the minimum – if a judge accepts it.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (Getty Images)

In Georgia, Mr Trump faces mandatory time behind bars if he is convicted of the most serious felony count he faces: a violation of the state’s anti-organised crime RICO law.

Mr Trump faces 13 felony counts in total stemming from the Georgia indictment, unsealed this past Monday after a grand jury voted to approve it. He is set to surrender to authorities in Fulton County within the next week.

The ex-president has loudly denied committing any crimes in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, though some of the charges stem from publicly-available audio of a conversation between Mr Trump and Georgia’s top elections official wherein he urged the official to add more than 11,000 votes to his total in the state.

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