Federal prosecutors are likely to wait until after the November election to announce any charges against
The unprecedented prospect of bringing charges against a former US president is creating intense scrutiny of the Justice Department in the aftermath of its
Under long-standing department policy, prosecutors are barred from taking investigative steps or filing charges for the purpose of affecting an election or helping a candidate or party, traditionally 60 days before an election. This year, that would be by Sept. 10, which makes it unlikely anything would be announced until after Nov. 8, said people who asked to remain anonymous speaking about potential Justice Department actions.
To be sure, the department has ignored that policy in recent years with moves interpreted as political interference. Most notable was when former FBI Director
And in 2020, former Attorney General
This time around, the impact of any criminal case against Trump would likely be significant. While he isn’t on the ballot in November, Trump has endorsed candidates who are, and he leads a fierce political movement. He recently demanded that he be reinstated as president or a new election held. Trump also might declare he’s running for president prior to November, which would make him the instant frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
It’s not clear if any of the investigations into Trump will have reached the point by November that a decision on charging him could be made, according to two of the people who asked to remain anonymous. And the department isn’t facing any urgent charging deadlines that must be met before November, they said.
However, nothing stops investigators from taking non-public actions in their investigations, which could include obtaining indictments under seal.
“Simply put, partisan politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges,” Garland said in the memo. The Justice Department declined further comment.
The department has chronicled its investigative steps in recent court filings. In a filing late Tuesday, the department said it developed evidence that White House records held in a storage room at Trump’s Florida home may have been concealed or removed before a June FBI visit to collect classified documents, suggesting possible attempts to obstruct the investigation.
The FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s home Aug. 8, when agents removed 20 boxes of material containing 11 sets of classified materials, according to another filing.
Announcing charges against Trump prior to the election likely would be seen as a political ploy by his supporters to damage him and his endorsed candidates, and could fuel unrest in the country.
South Carolina Republican Senator
The department is still in the early stages of investigating whether Trump broke any laws with regard to the classified documents, Jay Bratt, chief of the department’s counterintelligence and export control section, said during a recent court hearing.
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