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Why Did All The Charges Against Trump Take So Long To Be Filed?

Office of Donald Trump Website

Four indictments in four months over crimes that happened two years ago. Democrats want to know why all the charges against former President Trump took so long.

Republicans are suspicious: Why did prosecutors supposedly wait until the 2024 campaign was heating up, and former President Trump was the runaway favorite for the Republican nomination?

Trump may have to spend the next year juggling constant court dates with a campaign to get his old job back, reports Axios.

The Justice Department has long held that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, effectively granting Trump immunity while he was in the White House.

Trump didn't face consequences in 2018 when he was named "Individual 1" in the case against his former fixer Michael Cohen, who admitted paying hush money to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller also cited the DOJ opinion when he declined to indict Trump in 2019, despite finding evidence that the then-president may have obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.

The Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion does not prevent ex-presidents from being prosecuted for crimes they're accused of committing while in office — such as Trump's alleged hush money payments or his scheme to overturn the 2020 election.

Top DOJ officials resisted opening a probe into Trump's role in Jan. 6 for more than a year, weary of appearing partisan. Even after Jack Smith took over as special counsel, legal battles involving the testimony of key figures such as former Vice President Mike Pence led to further delays.

In Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced a sprawling racketeering indictment against Trump and 18 allies, the sheer scale and complexity of the two-and-a-half year election interference probe helps explain the timing. (Willis has proposed a trial date of next March 4, the day before the "Super Tuesday" primary elections.)

The Justice Department has an unwritten rule not to take investigative steps against candidates within 60 days of an election. It doesn't always work out that way: In October 2016, then-FBI director James Comey dropped the bombshell revelation that the FBI had reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. Eleven days later, Trump was elected president.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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