For months, former President Donald Trump has faced numerous investigations from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The most recent investigation is focused around his actions surrounding the 2020 election. On Sunday night, a letter was sent to Trump from Special Counsel Jack Smith stating that he is a target of an upcoming grand jury investigation scheduled for January 6th.
This has caused many to speculate about what could come next in this ongoing saga involving one of the country’s most controversial political figures.
Earlier in the week, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed, turned down a request from special counsel Jack Smith’s team not to delay a preliminary hearing in the case involving both Trump and his valet Nauta that was initially scheduled for Friday.
Cannon agreed to reschedule the hearing until July 18, according to ABC News.
What We Know About the DOJ Investigation
There have been various reports and conjecture concerning the specifics of this investigation, although there are a few known facts that can provide more clarity on the situation.
It has been reported that once informed, a target has the opportunity to present evidence or testify to the grand jury if they choose.
Additionally, Smith and his team are reportedly looking into classified documents located at Mar-a-Lago last year and have filed a response to a request from lawyers representing former President Donald Trump to delay his trial over alleged mishandling of such documents until at least after 2024’s presidential election.
Smith’s team argued that Cannon “should not even consider” the request from Team Trump:
The United States files this reply in support of its Motion for Continuance and Proposed Revised Scheduling Order (ECF No. 34, “Mot.”). In their response in opposition to the Motion (ECF No. 66, “Resp.”), Defendants Trump and [Walt] Nauta claim unequivocally that they cannot receive a fair trial prior to the conclusion of the next presidential election, urge the Court to withdraw the current scheduling Order (ECF No. 28), and request that the Court not even consider a new trial date until some unspecified later time. Resp. at 9, 10.
There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none. For the reasons discussed below and in the Government’s Motion, the Court should reset the trial date in this action for December 11, 2023.
The response from Smith’s team also goes on to refute Trump’s attorneys point by point.
“Defendants’ claim that this Court could not select an impartial jury until after the presidential election does not justify further delay here. Resp. at 9. First and most importantly, there is no reason to credit the claim,” the Smith team argued.
“Our jury system relies on the Court’s authority to craft a thorough and effective jury selection process, and on prospective jurors’ ability and willingness to decide cases based on the evidence presented to them, guided by legal instructions from the Court,” the filing continued.
“To be sure, the Government readily acknowledges that jury selection here may merit additional protocols (such as a questionnaire) and may be more time-consuming than in other cases, but those are reasons to start the process sooner rather than later,” it added.
Lastly, Jay Bratt—the lead federal prosecutor on Smith’s team—opposed any delay sought by Nauta’s attorney Stanley Woodward due to timing conflicts with another case involving defendants charged in relation to Capitol Hill’s January 6 attack, however, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon agreed with Woodward and rescheduled their hearing until July 18th instead.
A Look Into Potential Outcomes
Justice Department regulations allow for prosecutors to notify subjects of an investigation that they have become a target.
However, it is possible that those notified may not ultimately be charged with anything in relation due process rights afforded them through law as cited above.
Additionally, it should also be noted that while prosecutors do have discretion when giving these notifications, there is still no guarantee given as far as outcomes go either way regarding potential indictments or arrests associated with such notifications since all cases vary depending upon their individual circumstances even within similar categories like this one involving former President Donald Trump being notified as a possible target in an upcoming DOJ grand jury investigation set for January 6th 2021