"Full speed ahead": DOJ plans to pursue criminal cases against Trump even if he wins in November

Trump could still go to trial as a president-elect, according to Department of Justice officials

Published July 3, 2024 10:53AM (EDT)

Jack Smith | US Supreme Court (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Jack Smith | US Supreme Court (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Officials in the Department of Justice will continue to pursue the federal criminal cases against Trump even if he wins the presidential election in November, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The DOJ has a longstanding policy that a sitting president cannot be criminally charged or prosecuted, but officials told CNN they believe that rule does not apply to a president-elect. That means if Trump wins in November, he could still be on trial until he is inaugurated in January 2025, per CNN.

Law enforcement officials have long known that Trump’s two federal indictments would come with a time constraint due to the DOJ policy, The Post reported.

Further delays to Trump’s election interference trial are likely after Monday’s Supreme Court decision ruled Trump may claim immunity for most of the actions he took while president. Following the ruling, Trump’s sentencing in the New York hush money trial was postponed until September

Any court activity involving a president-elect would be uncharted territory and proceedings would ultimately be up to the court to decide, The Post reported.

“The Justice Department isn’t governed by the election calendar. Its prosecution of Trump is based on the law, the facts and the Justice Manual — the department’s bible that lays out the post-Watergate norms that have prevented it from being weaponized,” Anthony Coley, a former Justice Department spokesman for Attorney General Merrick Garland, told The Post. “Until those norms change, or they’re ordered otherwise, I’d expect this Justice Department to be full speed ahead. And they should be.”

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