Every move he’s made at both the FBI and Department of Justice suggests that Donald Trump knows there’s plenty of evidence against him on federal crimes such as conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. He’s tried to stack the deck in his favor and now is merely waiting to see if he can survive the release of the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
But even if Trump does manage to wriggle off the hook on federal charges, that’s not the end of the legal jeopardy he faces, according to former FBI agent Asha Rangappa, who spells out the danger for the president from various states that may also seek to file criminal charges.
In an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, Rangappa notes:
“Once Mueller wraps up his investigation, the path will be clear for bringing state charges against people who have violated state law. This could be bad news for Trump. His pardon power cannot reach state crimes, so there is no get-out-of-jail-free card for people charged under state law. Because states do not answer to the Justice Department, no U.S. Attorney General, no matter how loyal, can put a stop to their investigations.”
States are also not bound by the long DOJ precedent that a sitting president cannot be indicted:
“There is nothing under current law that would prevent a state from charging Trump himself with a crime. Such an action would be unprecedented and inevitably result in a major constitutional showdown, but even the best-case scenario (for Trump) would be that prosecution gets deferred until he leaves office, which would still leave him cornered from a legal perspective and raise the likelihood of impeachment.”
What states might be interested in filing charges against Trump? Well, New York would be one. But he might also face criminal indictment in Florida (where Mar-a-Lago is). He might even be liable for charges such as money laundering and fraud in every state where he owns property.
So while Robert Mueller may be close to presenting his report to Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr — who has hinted he might not share the details of the Russia probe with Congress or the public — Donald Trump is far from in the clear, and he’s about to find out the hard way the full meaning of the old saying, “When it rains, it pours.”