The bizarre and insanely early rollout of his presidential campaign in 2024 has former prosecutors accusing him of simply taking cover from a potential federal criminal charge. But those same legal experts say Trump’s announcement of his candidacy would at best delay a prosecution — and at worst spark a MAGA uprising.
“Trump has set a marker. He thinks that will give him some political coverage,” James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor, said of Trump’s decision to announce. “It will put him in a stronger position to start up his base and claim it’s all a political witch hunt and send them out on the streets.”
While another violent uprising would be a worst-case scenario, Trump’s announcement as president will make the Justice Department more hesitant to charge him, but only because the Justice Department is so concerned about appearances.
The DOJ’s internal guidelines disapprove of prosecutions affecting campaigns within 60 days of Election Day. However, there is no formal rule. Attorney General Merrick Garland has just shown that he tries to avoid any semblance of political interference — and is often consumed with restoring the DOJ’s reputation.
The ’60 days’ rule does not exist. It’s time to sue Trump now.
It’s possible that consideration already prevented the Justice Department from indicting the former president for conspiring to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, or for mishandling classified documents after leaving the office. White House. But with the looming prospect of those shackles being released the next day after the election, Trump stated Monday that he would make a “big announcement” on Nov. 15, presumably giving him another week of protection in this theory.
What Trump may not have realized is that his November announcement will not give him any more protection than he already has; Georgia’s Senate race to a second election on Dec. 6 puts the Justice Department’s so-called “60-day rule” back into operation, three former prosecutors said.
“He’s doing it because he thought he was protected by the 60-day rule, and it would have expired by now,” Ziring said. “He made the announcement before he knew there would be a drain in Georgia.”
While Trump may want to make sure there is no gap between the election and his running for office, the reality is that this “rule” has never really been a rule. In fact, Garland stands even more firmly in favor of a prosecution because he could argue that Trump is trying to play the system.
And regardless of Trump’s candidacy, former federal prosecutors told The Daily Beast they are confident the former president will be charged. “His intent in announcing that is to delay criminal cases,” said Thomas Baer, a retired federal prosecutor in New York City. “He thinks that if he runs for president, it will cause prosecutors to drop their case or think twice, because it could be interpreted as political, a response to his candidacy. The answer is: no, they are not holding back.”
The Justice Department must steer clear of the Trump investigations
The real effect of Trump continuing to delay the official announcement of his third run for the White House, legal experts said, is that it comes with the threat of political violence.
“It will harm the country if a former president is prosecuted, even if the former president is a really bad person who would not hesitate to destroy our democracy if he thought it would be to his advantage to do so,” Martin said. London, a retired New York attorney who once ran the massive law firm of Paul Weiss.
“If you ask if the government should charge him in the face of… [the] adversity it will bring in terms of all the madmen who will come out and make threats, my answer is yes. Not only do they have to, but they have to. They should charge him if they find out he has broken criminal law,” London added. “I’d like to see Garland hurry up, pull this off and charge this bastard.”
Several retired prosecutors who worked at the Justice Department told The Daily Beast that Trump’s procrastination game clearly contradicts the DOJ’s multiple ongoing investigations.
The DOJ is deliberate and cautious. Garland, whose stellar track record and stoic demeanor nearly landed him on the Supreme Court during the Obama administration, is extremely careful not to make these historic investigations of a former president appear to be a partisan hacking job.
He issued a department memo in May titled “election year sensitivities,” emphasizing the importance of adhering to the DOJ axiom of not disrupting the election. after what The Wall Street Journal described as “weeks” of deliberation, Garland approved the search for Mar-a-Lago early enough to ensure it took place 92 days before the midterm elections — well beyond the traditional 60-day quiet period.
After that, he managed to keep the Trump investigations quiet for almost the entire summer. When Trump himself drew national attention to the FBI’s search for his oceanfront mansion in Florida’s Mar-a-Lago in August, Garland had the DOJ make aspects of the investigation public, while keeping the most damning details under seal.
And now, according to CNN, Garland is even considering using special counsel to independently manage a Trump prosecution, adding an additional bureaucracy that some legal scholars consider unnecessary.
Trump ally may receive immunity for testimony in Mar-a-Lago probe
But the New York businessman, who has turned American politics upside down since 2015, is doing the same thing he always does: using institutions’ strict adherence to traditions against them.
Aware that prosecuting a former president looks bad, but targeting a presidential candidate is even worse, Trump has hinted at another presidential run since at least February 2021, just a month after leaving the White House.
“Who knows? I might even decide to beat them for a third time,” Trump said at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, in a speech lying about winning his second run and railing against Democrats.
Since then, his stream-of-consciousness speeches at rallies and political conferences in Arizona, the District of Columbia, and elsewhere have been laced with references to a 2024 run.
There are, of course, other benefits to withholding a formal announcement. Campaign finance laws prohibit Trump from coordinating directly with his vast network of political action committees, such as Save America and Make America Great Again Inc. But by maintaining himself as a regular citizen, Trump can use these PACs to fund his travels and rallies when he doesn’t. adhere to strict reporting requirements – something that rolling stone labeled last year as a “shadow campaign designed to circumvent campaign finance regulations”.
But right now, the DOJ has gone far enough with its investigations to potentially indict Trump. A federal judge in California has already revealed that Trump approved voter fraud charges in a lawsuit he knew at the time to be false, potentially fueling prosecution for Trump’s unprecedented attempt to stay in power . And a federal appeals court has given federal prosecutors the freedom to review any classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, a matter that could simply come down to whether or not Trump possessed them — whatever he was.
The length of these long-running investigations should be enough to prove that the DOJ wasn’t just waiting for Trump to announce a run. Baer said Trump’s bet will be a total failure this time.
“His calculation is a bad judgment, because the fact that he decides to run for president does not change the fact that all these crimes – which he committed – were investigated before he made the announcement,” Baer said.
There is now a growing concern that the longer wait could spill over into the 2024 election cycle — and perhaps even the next presidential inauguration.
“The longer it takes Garland to indict Trump — and I think it should and will happen — the closer we get to January 20, 2025. And if there is an indictment pending or even a trial in 2025 and there is a possible Republican president, that could be the end of the prosecution. I think Ron DeSantis or Mike Pence would pardon him,” London said.
Mar-a-Lago Stash Reportedly Contained Sensitive Intel on Iranian Missiles
“He’s like Hamlet. He is a man of action, slowed down by thoughts. This is the kind of guy you would play chess with as a kid, who wouldn’t let go of the piece,” Zirin said. “If he wants to justify the public, he has to strike now.”
Some think even Republicans should get involved, especially given the way Republicans failed to make a comeback and Trump-backed elections that denied candidates across the country were resolutely rejected by voters this week. Even Trump’s former White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, called him a “loser.”
“I really think Trump believes he can avoid prosecution by running for president and causing delays. That’s another Trump strategy: procrastinate and run out of time. But many Republicans simply have a selfish and practical interest in Trump being prosecuted and convicted—for everything, really. They want to get rid of him because of their ambition or because he is clearly dragging the party down with bad candidates,” said Eric Owens, a retired lawyer who previously wrote for conservative website The Daily Caller.
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