Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Trump Unlikely To Face Any Charges Before Midterms, Report Says

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Federal prosecutors are not expected to bring any charges against former President Donald Trump prior to November, according to Bloomberg, due to concerns about the political ramifications of bringing potential charges ahead of a major election.

Former President Donald Trump riles up his followers at a rally on August 5, 2022, in Waukesha, … [+] Wisconsin.

Morry Gash, File/Associated Press

Key Facts

The news outlet cited multiple sources with knowledge of Justice Department decision making, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of DOJ actions.

Traditional, yet unofficial and sometimes ignored, DOJ policy prohibits prosecutors from bringing charges that could have an impact on voter sentiment within 60 days of an election.

The full scope of the DOJ’s probe, and how much it might implicate Trump in wrongdoing, is not publicly known.

An unsealed search warrant used for the August 8 Mar-A-Lago raid revealed that prosecutors searched the former president’s home for evidence of Espionage Act violations and other offenses related to improper handling of government materials.

Key Background
The ongoing legal saga over the raid of the former president’s home has gripped national political observers, with many Republican lawmakers bemoaning the potential negative impacts it could have on the party in the midterms. The latest battle between Trump and federal prosecutors is over Trump’s lawsuit demanding the appointment of an independent “special master” to review whether there is any privileged information in the trove of documents the FBI recovered from Mar-A-Lago earlier this month. The DOJ in a Tuesday night filing released a redacted image of the records it recovered, showing several documents labeled “top secret,” which Trump claims he declassified. Prosecutors argued in Tuesday’s filing that a special master is not necessary, and said they suspected the government records were improperly moved from the White House to Mar-A-Lago in an attempt to “obstruct the government’s investigation.”

Surprising Fact
Former FBI director James Comey notably sidestepped the unwritten 60-day policy, which also applies to announcements on federal investigations, just 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, when he announced a renewed probe into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. He announced on November 6, 2016—just two days before the election—that no criminal action was found. Former attorney general Bill Barr similarly ignored the policy prior to the 2020 election, when he said just weeks before Election Day that prosecutors could make statements on voter fraud investigations.

What To Watch For
The midterm elections are November 8, making September 10 the start of the traditional 60-day waiting period.

Further Reading
DOJ Is Likely to Wait Past Election to Reveal Any Trump Charges (Bloomberg)

Mar-A-Lago Raid: FBI Investigating Whether Trump Violated These 3 Statutes (Forbes)

Trump And His Team ‘Likely Concealed’ Classified Documents, DOJ Filing Alleges (Forbes)

Trump Asks Judge To Appoint ‘Special Master’ To Review Seized Mar-A-Lago Records (Forbes)

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