The three federal prosecutors overseeing investigations into former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and the president’s son Hunter Biden will keep working — and continue to get paid — if the US government shutters in the coming days.
(Bloomberg) — The three federal prosecutors overseeing investigations into former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden and the president’s son Hunter Biden will keep working — and continue to get paid — if the US government shutters in the coming days.
The crypto fraud trial against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is set to begin next week in a Manhattan federal courtroom. The mega antitrust trial against Alphabet Inc.’s Google in Washington is expected to press ahead. And the US Supreme Court justices will take the bench on Oct. 2 to kick off the new term.
Millions of federal workers are bracing to be sent home or work without pay absent a last-minute deal between House Republicans and the Biden administration before the 2024 fiscal year starts Oct. 1. But the criminal case work of the US Justice Department won’t stop, the special counsels are funded through their own pool of money, and US courts will stay open, at least at the start.
Read More: Last-Minute US Shutdown Deal Unlikely as McCarthy Lacks Leverage
The Justice Department’s shutdown contingency plan anticipates that 96,666 workers — making up 84% of all employees — will be exempt from a furlough and will stay on the job, though many will be working without pay, at least until there’s a new spending package. Criminal case litigation “will continue without interruption,” the memo states.
The federal judiciary’s administrative arm has said it has enough money through fees and other sources to continue operating for at least two weeks. If those funds run out, courts might scale back operations and furlough some staff, but would designate enough employees to stay on to continue “mission critical work,” Bloomberg Law reported.
Justice Department attorneys are expected to ask judges to pause civil cases or postpone deadlines, but will keep working if the answer is “No.” In Washington, a federal judge this week said that he would “quickly” deny a request to halt the months-long antitrust trial already underway against Google.
More than 6,000 Justice Department employees not only will keep working, but also will continue to receive paychecks because their funding comes from alternative sources. That figure includes attorneys and staff hired by the Trump and Biden special counsels or who were temporarily detailed from US attorney offices and other units for those investigations.
Congress decades ago approved a “permanent indefinite appropriation” to cover the expenses of Justice Department special counsels that isn’t tied to the annual federal spending package.
The shutdown memo noted 18 special counsel employees will continue to work with pay, but it was unclear whether that included those detailed from other assignments as well as direct hires; a Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
A number of other department employees who support the special counsels but who aren’t paid by those offices — FBI agents, analysts, and security details, for example — are expected to stay on the job but may not get paychecks during the shutdown.
There are three active special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland. John “Jack” Smith is overseeing investigations into Trump related to the 2020 election and the former president’s handling of classified information. Both probes are ongoing as prosecutors also press ahead with indictments against Trump in federal courts in Florida and Washington. Smith, appointed in November, spent $5.4 million on compensation and other expenses in his first four months on the job.
Trump is also facing criminal charges in New York and Georgia, but those are in state court and wouldn’t be affected by a federal government shutdown.
Read More: Trump’s Trials: The Latest on All His Legal Cases
Robert Hur is leading an investigation into Joe Biden’s handling of classified material after his time as vice president and as a US senator. No charges have been brought to date. Appointed in January, Hur had spent $615,962 as of the end of March.
The newest special counsel, David Weiss, is leading the probe into Hunter Biden. Weiss, who is also the US attorney in Delaware, has been running that investigation since 2018 but was only appointed as special counsel in August. His office indicted Hunter Biden in Delaware on federal gun charges in mid-September and could file a separate tax case in the coming weeks.
(Updated with additional information about Justice Department, US courts shutdown planning)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.