After the midterm elections, and as the date for Donald Trump’s next presidential run neared, Justice Department officials said Trump’s candidacy would lead to the appointment of a special counsel to oversee two sprawling federal investigations involving the former president. A source familiar with the matter said there had been discussions about whether an officer would be needed. CNN.
The Justice Department is also deploying experienced prosecutors to investigate any post-midterm decisions, including the potential for an unprecedented move to indict the former president.
In the weeks leading up to the election, the Justice Department has observed a traditional period of silence during which it refrains from making overt moves that could have political repercussions. Aggressive grand jury subpoenas to compel testimony from witnesses in both Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and his mishandling of national security documents stored in his Palm Beach home. It uses letters and secret legal battles.
Now federal agents are planning a post-election blast in Trump-related investigations. That includes the prospect of indictments of Trump associates, a move that could become more complicated if Trump declares himself running for president.
“You can prosecute almost anyone if you want,” said one defense attorney working on issues related to Jan. 6, adding that she “doesn’t know” who will end up being prosecuted.
“This is terrifying,” said the lawyer.
Trump and his associates are also facing legal exposure in Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Peach State. plans to complete her investigation by the end of the year.
Indicting a sitting White House candidate would certainly cause a political uproar. No decision has yet been made on whether a special counsel will be needed in the future, but DOJ officials said doing so would be a way for the Joe Biden administration to target his key political rival. They are debating whether the Justice Department can be defended against the accusations, people familiar with the matter said. CNN.
Of course, the Special Counsel is hardly immune to political attack. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe have both been criticized by opponents.
The Justice Department declined to comment for this story.
The Justice Department has convened the Brain Trust for high-level advice on the Trump investigation, according to people familiar with the move.
The top law enforcement agency has enlisted Kansas City-based federal prosecutor and national security expert David Ruskin and prosecutor-turned-attorney David Roddy to join the investigation and the Southern District of New York Attorney’s Office. I turned to a former security guard. He specializes in gang and conspiracy cases and has worked extensively with government collaborators.
Roddy left a lucrative partnership at prominent corporate defense firm Sidley Austin in recent weeks to become a senior attorney at the Department of Justice in Washington’s crime division, according to a LinkedIn profile and sources familiar with the move. . .
The U.S. Attorney’s Office team in DC, which handles the day-to-day operations of the January 6 investigation, is also expanding despite the agency’s sedition case against right-wing extremists going to trial.
Several other prosecutors joined the investigative team on January 6. Among them was a high-ranking prosecutor charged with fraud and official corruption who left his supervisory position to join the team. Part of Grand Jury activity.
Taken together, the reorganization of prosecutors marks a serious and snowballing investigation into Trump and his closest circles.
After Senate Republicans rejected his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, President Joe Biden chose him for the office because his tenure as a judge had kept him somewhat away from partisan politics.
Several former prosecutors believe there are facts about the cases that could be prosecuted. But Garland will have to navigate a politically risky and historic decision on how to approach a potential indictment of the former president.
In March, Garland declined to answer CNN’s question about the possibility of appointing a special counsel to a Trump-related investigation, but the Justice Department said it would not “shake off controversial, sensitive or political cases.” No,’ he said.
“What we should and should avoid is the partisan element in decision-making about the case,” Garland said. “It is my intention to ensure that DOJ decisions are made on the merits, based on facts and law, and not on partisan considerations of any kind. That’s it.”
Garland’s tough decisions go beyond Trump. The long-running investigation into the president’s son, Hunter Biden, is nearing a conclusion, people briefed on the matter say.
After the midterm elections, it won’t be long before the focus shifts to the 2024 presidential election. Another source familiar with internal Justice Department affairs said this prompted DOJ officials to make important prosecution decisions as quickly as possible, including whether to indict Trump himself or other key political activists. may become.
“We’re not going to indict before we’re ready to do so,” said a former Justice Department official who has some insight into the thinking behind the investigation. “But for cases earlier than the normal five-year window in which the Justice Department must prosecute, there will be additional pressure to get through the review.”
Things could also be complicated by the situation in Georgia, where Willis is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Willis said the special grand jury is aiming to finish its investigation work by the end of the year.
Willis is observing her own version of the period of silence around the midterm elections and is looking to take witnesses before a grand jury in the coming weeks. He said it could come out in December.
Key Trump supporters, including South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have fought off subpoenas in state probes into attempts to interfere with the 2020 Georgia election. I’m one of the witnesses who tried.
How these disputes are resolved in Georgia, including whether courts will compel testimony, could improve the Justice Department’s ability to collect information.
The months leading up to the election saw little respite from political and legal activity surrounding the investigation. The Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is still conducting much of the January 6 investigation, said the prosecutor was either on trial or had a guilty plea from his mob of more than 800 people on the Capitol grounds. It has been dealing with burnout in that rank because it has secured. Still looks like it charges hundreds.
Trump also foiled the Justice Department’s efforts to keep things quiet in the weeks leading up to the election, leading to a constant barrage of headlines related to the investigation.
Trump’s legal team sorted through thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago and went through a complex court-led process to determine whether they were privileged and off-limits to investigators. I have successfully implemented the process. But for several weeks, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies had access to about 100 classified records Mr. Trump kept in Florida.
The results of an information review of these documents could determine whether criminal charges are filed, according to a source familiar with the Justice Department’s approach.
But in neither investigation did the courtroom activity cool down, and the Justice Department secretly provided detailed information to at least five witnesses around Trump in a grand jury investigation in Washington, DC. CNN previously reported that they are trying to force them to do so.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Trump adviser Kash Patel to testify before a grand jury investigating the handling of federal records at Mar-a-Lago, according to two people familiar with the investigation. rice field.
DC District Court Judge Beryl Howell granted immunity from prosecution for information Patel provided to the investigation.