A shutdown wouldn’t halt Trump’s trials, so Republicans seek to rein in his prosecutors

A shutdown wouldn’t halt Trump’s trials, so Republicans seek to rein in his prosecutors

NBC News reports:

Four criminal indictments of Donald Trump have ignited his followers and spurred his House Republican allies to try to use the upcoming government funding deadline of Sept. 30 as leverage to undermine the prosecutions.

The bad news for them: A government shutdown wouldn’t halt the criminal proceedings against the former president.

Trump’s indictments in New York and Georgia would not be affected, while his federal indictments — for allegedly mishandling classified documents and for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — are criminal matters that have been exempted from shutdowns in the past. The Justice Department said in a 2021 memo that in a shutdown, “Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.” The Justice Department’s plans assume that the judicial branch remains fully operational, which it has said in the past can carry on for weeks in the event of a funding lapse.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s office is funded by a “permanent, indefinite appropriation for independent counsels,” the department said in its statement of expenditures. Given its separate funding source, the special counsel would not be affected by a shutdown and could run off of allocations from previous years.

As a result, Republicans are looking at ways to insert provisions in government funding legislation that would hinder federal and state prosecutors who have secured indictments of Trump, based on unproven claims that he’s being politically targeted.

It won’t be easy to achieve. The demands, spearheaded by hard-right Republicans, have sparked internal party divisions over reining in law enforcement power and will struggle to pass the House. The Justice bill is one of two appropriations measures the House GOP hasn’t yet passed, out of 12 total, a Democratic aide noted, which could signify splits about how to proceed. And Democrats, who control the Senate and the White House, are pushing back on those calls to derail law enforcement as interference in Trump’s cases. [Continue reading…]

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