DOJ could begin process of drafting Donald Trump indictments before the midterms: legal expert
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Labor Day morning, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance claimed the Department of Justice may work around the so-called "sixty-day rule" that blocks prosecutors from moving forward with criminal investigations of political figures just before an election in the case of Donald Trump.
Using a report from the New York Times that DOJ officials are mulling their next move against Trump following the Mar-a-Lago search that turned up stolen top secret documents, Vance suggested investigators may keep moving forward -- just not overtly.
"Former President Trump is not on the ballot but, in many ways, is all over the ballot," host Jonathan Lemire prompted. "He shadows this entire race. What's your assessment? What would be the appropriate course of action from the DOJ?"
"This is an unwritten rule that the 60-day rule is something every prosecutor is aware of," Vance began. "I spent 25 years at DOJ and, during many election years, not a surprise, we had open investigations on people who were going to be on the ballot, either in the primary or the general. And the way the rule was typically understood in U.S. attorneys offices across the country, as well as at main Justice in Washington, was that it meant you didn't take any overt steps, steps in an investigation that would become public, during that 60-day grace period for a candidate on the ballot."
After admitting, "It is, of course, an unwritten rule," Vance continued, "In thinking how to apply it here, rather than adhering to the strict contours of what was always understood about candidates on the ballot, DOJ will have to consider the purpose of the rule, which is to avoid interfering in influencing elections in any way."
"I think there is an awfully good argument to say Trump doesn't fall within this rule because he is not on the ballot in this campaign," she elaborated. "But folks at DOJ appreciate that the country, in many ways, is a powderkeg; they'll want to think through this carefully. One way they might ultimately decide to split the baby here is to be very careful about taking overt steps, steps that would become public in their investigation, like searching another location. At the same time, that doesn't keep them from beginning or continuing to work internally, and that might even include -- we don't know yet whether they'll get here -- but it could include beginning the process of drafting indictments or working with witnesses who might provide helpful information, even including speaking with some of the folks around Trump who could possibly have liability for what went on at Mar-a-Lago and finding ways to move the case forward without doing it in a public fashion."
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MSNBC 09 05 2022 06 08 58 youtu.be
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