At some point last week, Donald Trump’s lawyers got through to him. One day after a Georgia grand jury indicted him for trying to overturn the 2020 election, the former president announced on Tuesday that he would hold a press conference the following week to rebut the charges. The plan didn’t last for long. By Thursday, the whole thing was nixed. “My lawyers would prefer putting this, I believe, Irrefutable & Overwhelming evidence of Election Fraud & Irregularities in formal Legal Filings as we fight to dismiss this disgraceful Indictment,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

In other words, Trump’s attorneys seemingly convinced him of one of his most sacred rights as a criminal defendant: Mr. President, you have the right to remain silent.

But while his legal team may have dodged a bullet, for now, the problem isn’t going away. Trump is famous for his impromptu and incendiary pronouncements, whether through his rambling speeches or his social media tirades. Over the course of a long and arduous campaign, he will have ample opportunity to pontificate on his many prosecutions, meaning his lawyers, in all likelihood, won’t be able to protect Trump from himself for long. “No one has been able to manage Donald Trump, including Donald Trump,” says Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP strategist. “The effort to do so is virtually hopeless. I can’t imagine being his defense attorney in one of these trials. You’d have to drink a case of Maalox every morning just to get through the day.”

Still, Trump has proven himself adept at turning scandal into political advantage. His mastery of survival and showmanship could help him clinch the Republican nomination—with each indictment, he has soared only further in the polls—but it also comes with a distinctive risk, as Trump’s comments could potentially be used against him in court.

“I think that the statements he’s making can, and likely will do, substantial damage to him,” says Norm Eisen, who served as counsel for House Democrats on Trump’s first impeachment. “Additional statements can incriminate you. They can be the basis of worsening existing charges or superseding charges. They can be utilized as admissions while the trial is being prosecuted, whether or not Trump testifies. They run the risk of witness intimidation or harassment, which violate the terms of release for federal and state law.”

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