The two federal prosecutions under Jack Smith against Donald Trump would continue even under a government shutdown, Slate reports. That’s because Smith’s work is not actually funded through legislation that Congress controls. Instead, Smith’s office is funded by a “permanent, indefinite appropriation for independent counsels.” Most of the Department of Justice’s operations, in fact, are considered “an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property,” according to a DOJ contingency plan, and can stay running in the event of a government shutdown. About 96,000 DOJ employees will be exempt from any mandatory furloughs because of a government shutdown. That means both of Smith’s Trump prosecutions shouldn’t slow down much because of a government shutdown.
None of this means that House Republicans don’t wish they could shut down Jack Smith’s funding. Members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus have railed against the office of the special prosecutor, advocating legislation that prohibits the use of federal money to pay for Smith’s investigations and criminal cases against Trump. But, the Democrat-led Senate isn’t going to approve appropriations bills that strip the special counsel’s office of resources, and it seems that the hard-liners threatening to shut the government down are far more focused on their demands for border security and spending cuts to safety net programs. Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass new spending legislation. If the members can’t reach a consensus this weekend, the government will shut down on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 12:01 a.m. Jack Smith’s prosecutions will continue.