Newly announced 2024 presidential contender Donald Trump cannot use his status as a former president to avoid being prosecuted, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) said this week.
Appearing on CNN prior to Trump’s announcement from Mar-a-Lago that he’s running for president again in 2024, Raskin also explained that Trump cannot avoid investigations from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on account of being a candidate.
“Under our Constitution, we don’t have an ‘office of former president of the United States.’ A former president of the United States is just a citizen,” Raskin said to CNN host Anderson Cooper.
Raskin: "Under our constitution, we don't have an office of former POTUS. A former POTUS is just a citizen." pic.twitter.com/uxBQGx9sza
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 16, 2022
Trump “can still be tried” as a candidate, Raskin added. “I think the Department of Justice has been clear about that. All that matters is, the facts of the case and the law.”
There are some departmental policies that prevent the DOJ from bringing indictments against a candidate just weeks before an election, the Maryland Democrat recognized. “But other than that, running for office is not something that will immunize you against prosecution,” Raskin said.
Although Raskin — a member of the January 6 committee and a former Trump impeachment manager — is correct in his assessments, the DOJ may make some adjustments as to how it moves forward on the inquiries it has open regarding the former president.
According to reporting from The Washington Post, discussions have already occurred within the Justice Department on whether a special counsel needs to be appointed, when Trump announces his presidential candidacy, to lead the investigation into Trump’s involvement in the January 6 Capitol attack and attempted overturning of the 2020 election, as well as the investigation into his improperly removing classified documents from the White House upon his exit from office.
Since Trump announced his candidacy on Tuesday, those discussions have likely been renewed.
DOJ regulations require a special counsel to be appointed in the event that the department believes it may appear to have a conflict of interest in a particular case, or in the event of “other extraordinary circumstances” that make it “in the public interest” to make such an appointment.
Still, such an appointment wouldn’t derail an ongoing investigation, just limit how Attorney General Merrick Garland can direct things going forward.
Trump’s candidacy also doesn’t limit investigations at the state level. For example, the investigation into his and his loyalists’ attempt to overturn election results in Georgia can continue moving forward, regardless of his entry into the 2024 presidential race.