On Wednesday, September 21, 2023, former President Donald Trump called on congressional Republicans to let the government shut down in an attempt to undermine the criminal proceedings against him.
“A very important deadline is approaching at the end of the month,” Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, in reference to the September 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. 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!”
However, a government shutdown would not impede the 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 January 6 insurrection — are criminal matters that have been exempted from previous shutdowns.
In a 2021 memo, the Justice Department said 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 would also not face disruption, 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. Some Republicans have been pushing to defund the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in an effort to undermine the investigations into Trump. However, other Republicans have expressed concerns that a government shutdown would be politically damaging for the party and could hurt their chances in the 2024 elections.
It is unclear whether Trump’s call for a government shutdown will be heeded by House Republicans. However, his demand is a reflection of his ongoing efforts to obstruct the criminal proceedings against him and to maintain his grip on the Republican Party.