Monday, April 15, 2024

Check this out: Trump is spreading misinformation by saying that the Justice Department has rules stating that candidates can’t be charged with a crime during a campaign

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Donald Trump, the former president, is currently facing legal actions from both federal and local prosecutors. Trump insists on social media that these prosecutions should be halted immediately because, according to him, strict rules from the Department of Justice prevent the prosecution of political opponents during a campaign.

However, Trump’s claims are not accurate. There is no Department of Justice rule preventing the prosecution of a candidate during their election campaign. Three former federal prosecutors confirmed this. Even if such a rule existed, it wouldn’t apply to local district attorneys or state attorneys general, as they are not federal employees and aren’t bound by the Justice Department’s policies.

The Justice Department has guidelines about the timing of actions during elections, emphasizing not influencing elections. Still, there is no rule preventing the prosecution of an already indicted candidate close to Election Day. Trial schedules are determined by federal judges, not the Justice Department.

There is a historical example of a candidate, Senator Ted Stevens, facing a federal criminal trial during an election campaign in 2008. Trump, on the other hand, has been attempting to delay his trials. While these efforts might postpone the trials past the general Election Day in November, it’s also possible they could start closer to the election than initially planned.

Attorney General Merrick Garland stated in an interview that the cases against Trump were brought last year and are now in the hands of the judicial system. Internal memos from various attorneys general, including Trump-appointed William Barr in 2020, do not prohibit trials during a campaign.

In February 2020, Barr made a memo that gave rules for starting investigations on candidates for president and other federal positions. However, it didn’t talk about what happens after the investigation.

In May 2020, Barr made another memo, saying that prosecutors and investigators shouldn’t let politics influence their decisions. They should not time their actions, like making charges, to affect elections.

Trump’s recent claim doesn’t match with the facts. He said that state attorneys and local district attorneys are like ‘subsidiaries’ of the Justice Department, following its rules. But that’s not true. They are not federal employees and don’t follow the Justice Department’s rules.

This is in line with Trump’s other false claims. He wrongly thinks the Justice Department handles all his cases. For example, a civil fraud case was brought by New York’s state attorney general, not the Justice Department. Criminal cases were brought by elected district attorneys, not the Justice Department.

Trump mentioned a former Justice Department official working for the Manhattan district attorney. But there’s no proof that the Justice Department was involved in this decision. They aren’t controlling the case, and the same goes for the cases run by the New York attorney general and the Fulton County district attorney.

 

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