Politics Time is running out for Biden's Justice Department to prosecute Trump for 10 possible crimes detailed in the Mueller report
Biden swipes at Trump for 'mismanagement' of the economy: 'We're reducing the Trump deficits'
Biden rarely names his Republican predecessor. But he criticized Trump for swelling the deficit with tax cuts that never paid for themselves."After my predecessor's fiscal mismanagement, we're reducing the Trump deficits and getting our fiscal house back in order," he said in brief remarks at the White House on the President's annual budget proposal.
- The five-year deadline is closing in to charge Donald Trump with crimes detailed by Robert Mueller.
- Trump benefited in office from a DOJ policy against prosecuting a sitting president.
- House Democrats are pushing to prevent future presidents from running out the clock for prosecution.
A year ago Thursday, Donald Trump boarded Air Force One for the final time in his presidency and retreated to Mar-a-Lago, refusing to stand witness for the swearing-in of Joe Biden.
Lawsuit: Federal government is slow-walking investigation into Trump campaign 'shell company'
Donald Trump's 2020 campaign laundered spending through outside firms tied to Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale, the Campaign Legal Center has alleged.In a 16-page complaint filed in federal district court, the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center said the Federal Election Commission has abdicated its duty to investigate claims that the Trump campaign routed funds through two firms — American Made Media Consultants and Parscale Strategy — to conceal its spending in the 2020 presidential election.
It was a momentous day for Trump, marking the culmination of an electoral defeat he had pushed desperately to overturn. Now a full year out of office — and five years removed from his own swearing-in — Trump is closing in on anniversaries that carry more legal than political significance.
The five-year statute of limitations to prosecute any alleged federal crimes he committed while in office, after all, is.
Trump's tumultuous first year as president featured a string of episodes that came under scrutiny in the Russia investigation, an inquiry in which Special Counsel Robert Mueller examined whether Trump obstructed justice.
In his more than 400-page final, Mueller's special counsel team documented 10 of justice by Trump. Among them were Trump's efforts in early 2017 to pressure then-FBI Director James Comey to close an investigation into Michael Flynn, who at the time was national security advisor. Trump later fired Comey, setting in motion the events that led to Mueller's appointment as the special counsel in charge of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Federal prosecutors are zeroing in on a single Trump tweet that may have been the catalyst for right-wing extremists to join the Capitol riot
The December 2020 tweet announced Trump's January 6, 2021 rally outside the Capitol and urged supporters: "Be there, it will be wild!""Big protest in D.C. on January 6th," Trump tweeted on December 19. It was the first time he announced the "Save America" rally, which took place at the Ellipse in Washington, DC, less than two miles from the US Capitol. "Be there, will be wild!" the tweet said.
The special counsel's office examined not just that episode but also Trump's effort to have Mueller himself removed. Mueller declined to make a decision about whether Trump broke the law, in part because of the Justice Department'sthat sitting presidents cannot be charged with a federal crime. But, at a closely-watching congressional hearing, Mueller that Trump could theoretically be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office.
Charging an ex-president with a federal crime would be an unprecedented first in American history. Still, in the eyes of Trump's critics, the Mueller report provided a playbook for prosecuting him.
But the Justice Department has been silent as the five-year deadline nears.
"What's a matter of urgency that I'm very upset about is the statute of limitations is five years for obstruction of justice, and it's going to expire in a few months," said Richard Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who previously served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. "That Mueller report is a roadmap to an indictment of Donald Trump for obstruction of justice … Literally, a couple hours of work, and you probably have an indictment."
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A broader conspiracy?
Trump's unconventional presidency raised a number of novel legal issues and inspired legislation that specifically addressed the statute of limitations. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, introduced thein 2020 to toll — or effectively pause — the statute of limitations for federal offenses committed by sitting presidents.
Late last year, the House passed the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which includes a similar provision, along with others meant to prevent future abuses of the pardon power. The bill faces an uncertain future in the US Senate.
With the Justice Department taking no visible steps to pick up on Mueller's work, the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations will mark a largely symbolic moment in the reckoning with Trump's conduct, legal experts told Insider. Once the five-year deadline passes for the various episodes of possible obstruction, the option of "charging that as a standalone offense goes away," said Randall Eliason, a former public corruption prosecutor who now teaches law at George Washington University.
Ivanka Trump voluntarily submitted herself to 8 hours of questioning by the House committee probing the Capitol riot
Ivanka Trump's lengthy testimony outstripped her husband Jared Kushner's six-hour session with the House committee investigating the Capitol riot.According to CNBC, Trump testified via video link before the January 6 panel via video call in a session that ended at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The lengthy testimony outstripped the six-hour session that her husband, Jared Kushner, participated in on Thursday, which a lawmaker on the committee called "very helpful.
Eliason said the Justice Department could still fold conduct outside of that five-year window into a prosecution alleging a broader conspiracy to obstruct justice. If the Justice Department has weighed obstruction charges against Trump and decided not to bring them, Eliason said the public deserves an explanation.
"Given the fact that it involved a former president, given all the information that's out there in the Mueller report and elsewhere, if DOJ has considered the obstruction charges and decided not to pursue them, I think it would be good for them to issue some kind of statement to that effect explaining why, so the public knows this didn't just get ignored," he said.
Bigger risks in New York and Georgia
For now, Trump's most pressing legal trouble is coming from state and local authorities. New York Attorney Letitia James accused Trump's family business this week of repeatedly inflating the value of its assets, alleging that the company engaged in a pattern of "fraudulent or misleading" practices to boost its bottom line.
Trump was repeatedly introduced as the '45th and 47th president' during a party at his Mar-a-Lago club
Trump suggested several times on Tuesday evening that he may run again in 2024, according to a new Washington Post report. On Tuesday night at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, the former president and his top Republican allies and donors gathered for a screening of a film titled "Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump," produced by Trump ally David Bossie, the president of conservative advocacy organization Citizens United.
In Atlanta, the local district attorneyThursday to convene a grand jury to help investigate Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Within Trump's orbit, the New York investigation is seen as presenting the direst threat. A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"I've always thought he is most vulnerable in New York state and New York City. And the thing that's most concerning is the woman who's running the investigation ran for office on the campaign pledge that she would get Trump," said Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor who defended Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial in early 2020. "So she has essentially delegitimated any kind of objective inquiry."
Dershowitz told Insider that he does not expect any federal charges stemming from the conduct Mueller examined.
"The Mueller report was too equivocal for there to be criminal charges to be based on it," he said.
Merrick Garland's dilemma
The Justice Department hasan appetite for prosecuting Trump.
In speeches, Attorney General Merrick Garland has emphasized the need to restore the independence of a Justice Department that had been politicized under the Trump administration, and even those clamoring for a prosecution of the former president concede that such a case would cleave an already divided country.
Steve Bannon just lost a key pillar of his defense against contempt of Congress charges
US District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, said Bannon cannot use the so-called advice of counsel defense in his upcoming trial.In November, Summer Zervos, who had accused Trump of sexual assault following her appearance on "The Apprentice," dropped her lawsuit against him before he was forced to sit for a deposition. At around the same time, a New York state judge dismissed a lawsuit from Michael Cohen seeking to have the Trump Organization reimburse his legal fees for work he did on Trump's behalf.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"On the one hand, we don't want anyone to be above the law. So if he is guilty of a crime, he should pay the same criminal accountability that any other defendant would have to encounter. On the other hand, it's not great to have one political administration of one political party prosecuting the actions of its predecessor of a different political party. That is nightmarish as well," said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law.
"So there are many damned if you do, damned if you don't aspects to holding Trump accountable through the federal criminal system."
Still, Garland recently appeared to address the criticism that the Justice Department was ignoring Trump and his inner circle — and instead focusing on relatively low-level offenders — in the investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. On the eve of the first anniversary of the Capitol siege,the Justice Department was "committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy."
More recently, the defense lawyer for an accused Capitol rioter said the FBI had focused its questioning of his client oninvolving Trump and his inner circle, suggesting that the Justice Department is exploring the former president's role in the violence of January 6.
With Trump, "DOJ is a black box from the outside as far as what prosecutors are or are not pursuing," Torres-Spelliscy told Insider.
"What's really peculiar about this situation is that, while President Trump was president, he got the benefit of a DOJ policy that they will not indict a sitting president. We are in somewhat unprecedented legal territory, because the closest we've come to this is the Nixon presidency," she added.
"We've never been in this situation before."
A Trump-appointed federal judge acquits a defense contractor accused of storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 .
Matthew Martin, a federal defense contractor with security clearance, was found not guilty by a federal judge appointed by Trump. Martin is the first January 6 defendant to be fully acquitted at trial. A US District Court judge acquitted a defense contractor accused of illegally entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021.US District Judge Trevor N.