Former President Donald Trump has called on congressional Republicans to let the government shut down in a dubious effort to undermine the criminal proceedings against him.
Despite federal criminal proceedings being exempt from shutdowns, Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Wednesday evening, “A very important deadline is approaching at the end of the month,” in reference to the Sept. 30 deadline to pass a funding bill.
“Republicans in Congress can and must defund all aspects of Crooked Joe Biden’s weaponized Government that refuses to close the Border, and treats half the Country as Enemies of the State,” he wrote.
“This is also the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots.”
Trump added: “They failed on the debt limit, but they must not fail now. Use the power of the purse and defend the Country!”
The office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A government shutdown wouldn’t impede criminal proceedings against Trump. His indictments in New York and Georgia would not be affected, while his federal indictments — for allegedly mishandling classified documents and for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — are criminal matters that have been exempted from previous shutdowns.
In 2021, the Justice Department said in a memo that during a shutdown: “Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.”
The judicial branch wouldn’t face disruption either, with the department’s past statements indicating that it can operate for weeks even in the event of a funding lapse.
Trump’s demand comes as House Republicans struggle to agree on a pathway to avert a government shutdown by the end of the month.
Because a shutdown wouldn’t halt criminal proceedings against Trump, some House GOP allies are trying to rein in his prosecutors by inserting provisions in government funding legislation aimed at defunding or limiting law enforcement from investigating the former president, as they claim without evidence that his four indictments are a political hit job against him.
It is unclear whether the demands led by hard-line Republicans would pass the House amid GOP infighting over reining in law enforcement power. House Republicans have yet to pass the Justice bill, one of two appropriations measures out of 12 total, a Democratic aide had noted.
Calls to derail law enforcement in Trump’s cases are also facing pushback from congressional Democrats and the White House.
“Trump ordered House Republicans to shut down the government,” House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., tweeted Thursday in response to Trump’s demand.
“These people are too extreme to ever be trusted,” he added.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, slammed Trump’s demand as a move that would negatively affect working Americans and the economy.
“Let’s be clear about what the former president is saying here. House Republicans should shut down the government unless the prosecutions against him are shut down,” Schiff tweeted. “He would deny paychecks to millions of working families & devastate the US economy, all in the service of himself.”