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Could Trump violate his release conditions by debating Pence?

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(NewsNation) — As part of the release conditions for Donald Trump’s indictment 0ver allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election, the former president must not “communicate about the facts of the case” with anyone he knows to be a witness, except through counsel or in the presence of counsel.

Since former Vice President Mike Pence may likely be a star witness for the prosecution, NewsNation host Dan Abrams questioned whether Trump could potentially violate his release conditions at the upcoming Republican primary debate.

The first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 campaign is set for Aug. 23. To qualify, candidates must satisfy polling and donor requirements from the Republican National Committee: at least 1% in three high-quality national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls, between July 1 and Aug. 21, and a minimum of 40,000 donors, with at least 200 in 20 or more states.

It’s important to note that Trump has not made a final decision about attending the debate and Pence currently is not qualified for it.

Trump, who is widely considered the GOP frontrunner, has satisfied the RNC requirements, but he’s considering boycotting the debate and possibly hosting his own event.

Trump campaign advisers say he still has not made a final call on whether he will attend, but one said “it’s pretty clear” he’s unlikely to appear.

Pence has met the polling threshold but does not currently have enough donors. His campaign predicts he will qualify for the debate soon.

“We’re making incredible progress toward that goal. We’re not there yet,” Pence told CNN in a recent interview. “We will make it. I will see you at that debate stage.”

Though it’s still up in the air whether Trump or Pence will be there, former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York David Kelley says the case could present issues for Trump.

“It’s certainly an unusual problem,” Kelley said. “But I think it’s easily overcome because I think if Pence was going to be on the debate stage, they would just make an application to the judge under these extraordinary circumstances.”

He continued: “I think the fact that it’s all public, that there’s transparency there, that’s there’s no opportunity really to influence the witness, I think the judge would just sign off on it.”

In the latest federal case against Trump, prosecutors have not officially named Pence as a witness or released a witness list. As a result, May Mailman, former associate White House counsel in the Trump administration, doesn’t think this is a pressing matter.

“It’s kind of a down-the-road problem because we just don’t have a witness list,” she explained.

Robert Ray, who represented Trump in his 2020 impeachment trial, doesn’t think Trump will let the case hinder his campaign.

“I’m fairly confident that the president is not going through his lawyers to ask prior permission of a judge about what he can and can’t do on the campaign trail,” Ray said, later adding: “He’s not going to a federal judge to say, ‘Is it OK if I talk to Mike Pence while debating him on the debate stage?’ I think that’s silly. I wouldn’t be asking for permission.”

Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Kelley, Mailman and Ray all agree that they don’t think the trial in the case will happen before the 2024 election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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