Trump’s NY case was the first of four to go to trial. It could be the last one for a while

WASHINGTON (AP) — The hush money case that culminated in a conviction of Donald Trump this week was the first of four criminal prosecutions brought against the former president — and likely the only one to reach trial before the November elections.

Where there was once speculation among political pundits and legal observers about how the judicial system and election-year calendar could juggle four separate trials, the other three have been snarled in different ways and for different reasons. These delays make additional courtroom reckonings this year uncertain at best.

The fate of the other cases matters for historical and political reasons but practical ones, too: Now that Trump has a criminal record in New York, he would be at risk of a harsher sentence in the event he's convicted in any subsequent prosecution.

A look at where the other cases stand:

Election interference case in Washington

The federal case charging Trump with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election, one of two brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, was initially set for trial on March 4 and the judge overseeing it had signaled her determination to keep it on track.

Yet the case has been slowed for months by an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a legally untested question about presidential immunity. What the justices decide will determine when, and how, it proceeds — and if there's any chance of a trial before November.

The court heard arguments April 25 on Trump's claims that a former president is immune from prosecution for official White House acts, a position vigorously contested by federal prosecutors who say there's no protection in the Constitution or anywhere in the law for commanders in chief who commit crimes.

The justices puzzled during arguments over where the line should be drawn, and though it seemed unlikely from their questions that they'll adopt Trump's views of absolute immunity, they did seem potentially poised to narrow the case. A decision is expected by the end of June or early July.

One option will be to send it back to the trial judge, Tanya Chutkan, for her to determine which allegations in the indictment constitute official acts and must therefore be stricken from the case — and which do not.

That kind of analysis could be time-consuming and result in additional delays, though by the same token, a more slender set of allegations could make the case easier for the Smith team to prosecute and eat up less time on the election-year clock.

Either way, a monthslong gap between the high court's decision and any trial means the case will have been pushed far off course from its trial date. And though a trial could conceivably start this fall, at the very earliest, it seems more likely that there won't be time to squeeze it in.

If Trump loses the election, this case — like the others — will presumably proceed as before. But if he wins, he could appoint an attorney general who would seek the dismissal of this case and the other federal prosecution he faces. He could also attempt to pardon himself if he reclaims the White House.

Classified documents case in Florida

The case that's most intractably stuck is the one that seemed the most straightforward when it was filed last year.

The FBI recovered dozens of classified documents from Trump's Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, and Smith's team, in later charging Trump with illegally hoarding the records, identified evidence that it says shows the former president not only refused to give the files back but obstructed the government's efforts to recover them.

Yet the case has encountered roadblock after roadblock that virtually guarantee there won't be a trial this year.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020, has permitted unresolved motions to pile up, scheduled a series of hearings to entertain seemingly quixotic legal issues raised by the Trump team and repeatedly appeared exasperated with prosecutors and skeptical of their case.

The fractious relationship was on display well before the indictment was brought when Cannon, in a decision that was subsequently overturned by an unanimous appeals court panel, granted a Trump team request to appoint an independent special master to review the classified documents seized by the FBI.

It's continued since then, with Cannon this week denying for procedural reasons a prosecution request to restrict Trump from threatening comments about law enforcement officials involved in the investigation and scolding the Smith team for failing to sufficiently confer with defense lawyers.

Cannon this month indefinitely postponed the trial, canceling the May 20 date because of what she said were numerous unresolved issues. She's scheduled multiple hearings in the weeks ahead, including on a Trump challenge to the legality and funding of Smith's position as special counsel.,

Election interference case in Georgia

There's no weighty legal issue bogging down the Fulton County, Georgia, case charging Trump with trying to undo that state's election in 2020. Nor is a judge's inaction responsible for the delay.

Instead, the prosecutor's own conduct has resulted in a sideshow set of legal proceedings that have yielded uncertainty about whether District Attorney Fani Willis will continue to supervise it.

A Georgia appeals court agreed this month to review a lower court ruling that permitted Willis to continue overseeing the case despite allegations from defense lawyers that her romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade created a conflict of interest. The suggestion that Willis has improperly benefited from Wade injected sustained tumult into the case, with details of the prosecutors' personal lives overshadowing the substance of the allegations against Trump.

As of now, there's no trial date in the case, and the halting pace is all the more notable given the early momentum the sprawling case seemed to have developed, with four of Trump's 19 co-defendants reaching plea deals with prosecutors within months of last August's indictment.

What comes next in New York?

Trump is set to be sentenced on July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The falsifying business records charges — Trump was convicted of all 34 counts he faced — carry up to four years behind bars, though it's not clear whether prosecutors intend to seek imprisonment or whether the judge would impose that punishment even if asked.

Trump also intends to appeal the guilty verdict to a higher court in New York, which could conceivably agree that there are grounds to overturn the conviction. Even if the appeals court rules against him, the process could take months, and Trump's lawyers will almost certainly push for the former president to be allowed to remain free until he exhausts his appeals.

There’s nothing about the conviction, or even a potential prison sentence, that would prevent the presumptive Republican nominee from continuing his pursuit of the White House or serving as president.

Because it's a state case, not a federal one, Trump would not have the ability even to try to pardon himself if he does win the election. It remains unclear exactly what impact his victory, if it happened, might have on the New York case or on any punishment.