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Former President Donald Trump's legal and political calendars are filling up

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

It's been a week for the former president, Donald Trump, and current Republican presidential front-runner. And it was capped off when he posed for a mug shot in the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. And that wasn't a campaign visit. Donald Trump was being booked on 13 felony counts relating to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election result, the election that he lost. Despite four different criminal indictments, including this one, he remains the GOP frontrunner. To help us break down the events of this week, we've called on NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, who's also covering former President Trump. Hey, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hey, Leila.

FADEL: So big week for Trump. And Thursday's booking couldn't have been considered a good day for the former president and some of his associates, right?

ORDOÑEZ: No, it was not a good day at all.

FADEL: Yeah.

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, politically, there may be some other arguments, but this was his fourth arrest of the year in what has already been quite the year of legal struggles. You know, he flew into Atlanta, then he took this long motorcade to the jail. He made history becoming the first president, sitting or otherwise, to have a mugshot taken. The whole thing took about 20, 25 minutes. And back at the airport, he did address press. He said he did nothing wrong. He called this election interference. And as you noted, he wasn't the only one who surrendered to authorities yesterday. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also traveled to Atlanta and got...

FADEL: Yeah.

ORDOÑEZ: ...His mugshot taken. There was a lot of speculation about him because of his integral role in Trump's efforts to overturn the election. And there's many others. Former mayor of New York, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, his lawyer - another lawyer, John Eastman. It's a really long list, 18 co-defendants.

FADEL: Yeah. And, I mean, this came after a pretty eventful week, with rivals debating his relevance and surrendering in Georgia. What's ahead for Trump in the coming weeks?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, the indictments are just the beginning. I mean, it's just one of four. And the hearings are going to start soon. The first hearing, actually, on federal charges related to January 6 starts on Monday. And Trump is also not stopping his run for president. I mean, he's promising to get back out there, get back out the road and meet with voters. And he's incorporating these cases into his messaging that this is all unfair, that it's a two-tiered system of justice against conservatives, in order to galvanize support and money.

FADEL: So how will all these cases impact his run for 2024?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it's hard to imagine. I mean, his legal calendar and his political calendar are already starting to clash. The trip to Georgia, for example, was just a day after the first Republican debate. I mean, obviously, he skipped. And, you know, as we were noting before, the calendar is not going to clear up any time soon for him. I mean, trial dates are scattered throughout early 2024. Voters are going to start weighing in on the January caucuses in Iowa, and then you have the major presidential primaries following. Special counsel Jack Smith and other prosecutors have proposed a first federal trial date starting on January 6. He's also due in court in March on New York state charges. All this is running together.

FADEL: Wow. And he's returned to X, formerly Twitter, where he was banned before Elon Musk took over. His comeback post is his mugshot. So what does that tell us about the narrative Trump's spinning here?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it's another example of how he's not running away from all these cases. He's working it into his narrative of his political campaign. And it is his first post in about two years. I mean, folks are going to remember how he used Twitter as a megaphone when he ran for office last time and throughout his time in the White House. So it's - you know, it's pretty amazing.

FADEL: NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Thank you so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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