The Justice Department’s ‘60 Day Rule’ Is Obsolete and Needs to Go

Minister of Justice Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice need to get rid of the so-called “60-day Rule” that supposedly would prohibit the making of criminal charges Former President Donald Trump within 60 days of the upcoming midterm.

To begin with, Garland and the DOJ need to tell the American public that no such rule exists. That’s right – the rule doesn’t exist. It is the DOJ equivalent of an urban legend. There is no actual law or written policy at the DOJ that mentions anything about doing anything within 60 days of anything related to criminal charges, related to election. nominate.

This is no secret. Commentators include Confidentiality only, Law, Jeffrey Toobin and the DOJ Office of Inspector General have both confirmed the absence of any such written rule and agree that it is indeed an informal policy of best practices in prosecution including avoid actions such as “public accusations or other public disclosures that may affect [elections]. ”

But the power and influence of legend is still pervasive. Former Attorney General Eric Holder referenced the rule in op-ed Criticize the former FBI Director James Comey for violating DOJ rules and norms in his announcement of the Hilary Clinton investigation less than a month before the election she lost to Trump. An example of the Iran-Contra indictments by Independent Adviser Lawrence Walsh took place days before the 1992 presidential election, in which the senior Bush lost to Bill Clinton as also often quoted as a “proven rule violation.”

A written factual source of best practices (though without any mention of 60 days) may arise from the DOJ Guidelines (what used to be known as the US Attorney’s Guide) section 9-85-500 (Actions that may have an effect on elections) gives what we hope is common sense guidance that requires prosecutors and agents to never “pick the timing of their actions.” any action” – including investigations, declaring criminal charges – with the aim of influencing an election or helping or hurting specific candidates or parties.

Memorandums such as Holder’s 2012 guidance memo, using the same language, seems to be imbued with that principle also.

There is good reason why none of those written documents impose a deadline of 60 days or any other time period. too close to an election. Any such deadline is completely arbitrary and has no basis in anything but gut instinct. Who wants to say that an indictment coming 65 days before an election is different from an indictment coming 30 days before. More importantly, this rule lacks any utility as an anti-corruption operation because no time buffer can fix or prevent damage from prosecuting corrupt, politically motivated criminals. intended to influence an election or hurt a particular candidate.

Of course, no ethical prosecutor needs such a rule because ethical prosecutors do not abuse their power and position by weaponizing criminal prosecution against those who are not. political enemies. And whatever the shortcomings of Attorney General Garland may be, the lack of ethics is not among them.

So why do he and the DOJ officials have to deal with this mythical rule like some reports shown? The disappointing answer may be that Garland believes a major part of his mission is to restore the DOJ’s image and reputation as ethical and nonpartisan, after the Trump administration left the rifts.

It may make him want to comply with the rule in an effort to avoid political criticism, but such compliance could prevent him from pursuing potential crimes perpetrated by Trump and his inner circle. out in a timely manner when time is critical.

For example, the current criminal investigation into the possibility of Violating the Espionage Act focus around defense documents recovered at Mar-a-Lago regarding potential ongoing risks to the national security of the United States and even possible danger to human resources. The investigation of such a dangerous situation should not stop until after the midterm elections.

Similarly, attempts to deny legitimate elections results and allegations of interference in election processes need to be investigated and prosecuted yesterday because those same illegal actions could be happening now and midterm consequences. Indeed, all the evidence publicly discovered by Committee of January 6 pointed out that the threat to the stability of our democratic process has never been greater. It doesn’t make any sense if you stop investigating criminals about threats to our electoral process until after the next election.

This is why the DOJ needs to reject the myth of the “60-Day Rule” and simply follow the evidence and the law. If they find evidence of criminal wrongdoing that they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt then they should sue the case immediately.

The fear of alleged politically motivated corruption cannot be the guiding star for the DOJ amid unprecedented twin threats to our national security and elections. The dangers posed to our country by such threats are so severe that any delay could cause irreparable harm and the DOJ needs to understand that trying to avoid appear political by doing nothing that can become political.

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