March 2, 2024
Former President Donald Trump may avoid legal trouble before the midterm elections as federal prosecutors have missed an unofficial deadline to announce charges 60 days before Election Day.

Former President Donald Trump may avoid legal trouble before the midterm elections as federal prosecutors have missed an unofficial deadline to announce charges 60 days before Election Day.

The Department of Justice is likely to hold off on deciding whether to press charges against the former president, abiding by the “60 Day Rule”: a long-standing yet unofficial tradition that the DOJ avoids making consequential decisions within 60 days of an election that could affect voters’ decisions. The 60-day marker for the 2022 midterm elections fell on Friday, meaning it is unlikely Trump will face any charges until after the election.

However, some experts have questioned whether the traditional rule applies in this case, as Trump is not a candidate appearing on the November ballot.

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for an executive order in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 5, 2019, in Washington.
(Evan Vucci/AP)

“It’s not at all clear that it applies to taking investigative steps against a noncandidate former president who is nevertheless intimately involved in the November election,” Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told the New York Times. “But its purpose of avoiding any significant impact on an election seems to be implicated.”

Although Trump will not appear on the ballot, criminal charges could affect several GOP candidates who have benefited from the former president’s endorsement.

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Most notably, the former president is at the center of an investigation into whether he violated the Espionage Act by taking several classified documents from the White House after he left office. That investigation came to light after the FBI conducted a raid on his Mar-A-Lago home in July and the agency recovered hundreds of sensitive documents — some marked with the highest level of classification.

Trump also faces investigations into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, with federal prosecutors examining how these efforts may have led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Georgia prosecutors have also opened an investigation into how the former president may have interfered with the election within the state after Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and told him “to find” the votes needed to secure a victory.

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