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The Manhattan case against Trump rooted in campaign finance allegations is incredibly weak and is an obvious stretch; the Florida and D.C. cases against Trump are federal, which means that if elected president, he could theoretically pardon himself. The Georgia case is both wide-ranging and statebased: if convicted, Trump would go to state prison, and would have no ability to pardon himself. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp does not have unilateral pardon power, either: In Georgia, pardons work through an appointed board. So, the very real prospect exists that even were Trump elected, he’d start his term from a state prison.

But even that discussion is premature: The Georgia case, along with all the other indictments against Trump, are going to lock him into courthouses for the rest of the election cycle. What’s more, every waking moment for the media will be coverage of those court cases. That will make it impossible for Trump — even if he were so inclined, which has shown no evidence of being — to talk about President Joe Biden rather than his legal peril. And there has yet to be a single piece of data suggesting that Americans are driven to vote for Trump because of his legal troubles. To pardon yourself, you have to be elected president. But spending your entire presidential race in the dock makes that a radically uphill battle.

All of this is quite terrible for the country. No matter what you think of Trump’s various legal imbroglios — from mishandling classified documents to paying off porn stars to calling up the Georgia secretary of state in an attempt to “find” votes — the glass has now been broken over and over and over again: Political opponents can be targeted by legal enemies. It will not be unbroken. If you think that only Democratic district attorneys will play this game, you have another thing coming. Prepare for a future in which running for office carries the legal risk of going to jail — on all sides. Which means that only the worst and the most shameless will run for office.

Ben Shapiro, 39, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and co-founder of Daily Wire+. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is “The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators. com. COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS. COM.

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