“Set your watches”: Experts say there's "no chance" Trump won't violate strict bond conditions

"The only way Trump doesn’t violate his bond conditions is if his lawyers confiscate his phone," law professor says

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 22, 2023 9:02AM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Trump National Golf Club on June 13, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Trump National Golf Club on June 13, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump said he will surrender to Georgia authorities on Thursday after his lawyers reached an agreement on his bond with Fulton County prosecutors.

"Can you believe it? I'll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday to be ARRESTED by a Radical Left District Attorney," Trump complained on Truth Social after his bond was set at $200,000.

It will be Trump's fourth arrest in five months, this time on charges accusing him of illegally conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. Trump's post came after his attorneys met with prosecutors in Atlanta to discuss the terms of his bond, according to the Associated Press.

Trump's bond conditions stipulate that he not violate any laws and appear in court as directed. The consent order, approved by Judge Scott McAfee, also says that Trump "shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him… to be a codefendant or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice."

Politico reported Kyle Cheney noted after bond was set for Trump and co-defendants John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro and Scott Hall, only Trump "has explicit and expanded witness intimidation restrictions."

The document says that Trump shall "make no direct or indirect threat of any nature against any defendant" or witness, including individuals designated in the indictment as unindicted co-conspirators 1-30. Trump shall also "make no direct or indirect threat" against any victim or "against the community or to any property in the community."

"The above shall include, but not limited to, posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social media."

New York University Law Prof. Ryan Goodman highlighted the warning against reposting posts by others, which the former president has repeatedly done to target investigators, witnesses and judges.

"Those conditions are tailored for former President Trump," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"We know what Donald Trump does, he does this over and over again," CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said Monday. "He tweets or Truth Socials things out in coded language, and sometimes he does tend to repost things others have posted and then try to distance himself. I think it's a very smart move to call out that tactic and say, 'That's something we know you do, and we're not going to tolerate it.'"

Georgia State Law Prof. Anthony Michael Kreis expressed surprise that Trump's lawyers agreed to an agreement so "sweeping and vague" given "their client's penchant for attacking anyone on a whim and the fact he's running for president."

"Barring a real come-to-Jesus moment, the only way Trump doesn't violate his Fulton County consent bond conditions is if his lawyers confiscate his phone," he wrote.

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"What is the over/under on how long it takes Trump to violate these bond conditions?" wondered former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

"One day," predicted national security attorney Bradley Moss.

"Set your watches folks because there's little chance he'll comply," echoed Georgia State Law Prof. Eric Segall.

But former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade predicted that it would be "difficult for a judge to use the ultimate hammer, which is to revoke the bond and jail Donald Trump while awaiting trial."

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"Being jailed in the Rice Street Jail while he awaits trial is certainly no picnic, so I think we'll see things that come close to the line," she told MSNBC. "I think he will try to push a warning before he goes any further because it will be a difficult decision for a judge to revoke the bond. But if a judge is really doing his job, he is going to see that his job is to enforce the law and to manage this case, regardless of any political consequences that might come."

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen predicted that there is "no chance" Trump will comply with his bond conditions but "probably nothing will happen."

"I mean, maybe they'll increase his bond and then they'll do it again," he told CNN. "And then maybe even a fourth time. But Donald can't help himself. When he has a hatred — or an ire for somebody, he cannot help but get it off his chest. And the only way he can do it is through his 'untruth social.'"

Cohen, who has been repeatedly attacked by Trump on Truth Social, said most people "can't understand how devastating it is" to be targeted by him.

"I applaud the judge for putting restrictions on him," he added. "And I understand the argument about the First Amendment, that they're stifling the former president, the Republican presumed nominee. I get it. But Donald with his, you know, with his dog whistle, truly has the ability to change people's lives."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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