A former prosecutor said Donald Trump’s long-awaited run for president is unlikely to sway the Justice Department.
Any charges against Trump or his allies are likely to come in 2023, “well before” the 2024 primary.
The DOJ is issuing subpoenas and increasing its investigation into efforts to nullify the 2020 election.
If former President Donald Trump mounts a third run for president, federal prosecutors are likely to make a final decision on whether to bring charges against him “well before” the 2024 Republican primary, a former federal prosecutor told Insider.
Trump is weighing an unusually early campaign announcement, a move designed to displace emerging Republican rivals and shield him from the damning revelations piling up from investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But Barb McQuade, who served as the top federal prosecutor in Detroit during the Obama administration, told Insider that a declared candidacy must not skimp the former chairman of the Justice Department’s scrutiny.
If anything, he said, it would affect the timing of any case. McQuade pointed to the Justice Department’s longstanding policy of avoiding bringing cases or taking investigative action that could affect the outcome of an election.
“That usually results in inaction around 60 days before an election. The primary election won’t take place until 2024, so I don’t think a campaign announcement would have much of an effect on a Justice Department investigation,” he told Insider. “I hope the charges, if there are any, will be filed long before then.”
In recent months, the Justice Department stepped up its investigation into efforts to nullify the 2020 election and began “getting inside a larger plot,” McQuade said. In a single day late last month, FBI agents seized the phone of John Eastman, the conservative lawyer behind a fraught legal theory to justify then-Vice President Mike Pence blocking certification of Trump’s election defeat, and federal investigators searched Jeffrey’s home. Clark, a former top Justice Department official who promoted Trump’s false claims of voter fraud.
Federal agents also served grand jury subpoenas in connection with an investigation into a plan to create lists of so-called surrogate electors to keep Trump in power. That investigative activity has taken place in the context of a separate investigation by the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill, which has used a series of public hearings to tie trump to the violence of the day and highlight how his own advisers viewed his claims of voter fraud as baseless.
While the investigation is moving forward, McQuade said he does not anticipate any charges against Trump allies before the midterm elections in November. With the 2024 primary in mind, the Justice Department likely has a “target completion date of 2023,” he said.
“I think it’s realistic to expect, in calendar year 2023, we’ll see some charges,” McQuade said.
“I am not surprised that we have not yet seen charges against Donald Trump. Number 1, I don’t know if they will find enough evidence,” he added. “It takes a long time to present a case where guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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