Trump urges government shutdown in unlikely bid to ‘defund’ his criminal prosecutions


(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump has urged fellow Republicans in Congress to shut down the government to thwart the federal prosecutions against him, although any funding lapse was unlikely to stop the cases from being pursued.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are at odds over how to proceed with spending legislation, which must be passed to avert an Oct. 1 shutdown. A small group of hardliners, including Trump’s most fervent supporters, have complicated the agenda for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he pushes a short-term funding plan.

“Republicans in Congress can and must defund all aspects of Crooked Joe Biden’s weaponized Government,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social media site late on Wednesday, calling it “the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots.”

The U.S. Justice Department has previously said activities funded by “permanent indefinite appropriations” would continue during any funding lapse.

The Special Counsel’s office prosecuting Trump and his allies had no formal comment, but it is covered by “the permanent, indefinite appropriation for independent counsels,” according to its latest funding statement.

Trump faces two federal trials, one tied to his attempts to overturn his 2020 loss, as he again seeks the presidency in the 2024 election, and the other over his handling of classified documents.

New York and Georgia are also prosecuting him and a federal shutdown would not affect those cases.

The White House has stressed the independence of the Special Counsel’s office. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump in 2020 and is seeking re-election in 2024.

Republicans and Democrats seized on Trump’s plea, with Trump ally, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Trump Opposes the Continuing Resolution. Hold the Line.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote on X: “Trump ordered House Republicans to shutdown the government. These people are too extreme to ever be trusted.”

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Howard Goller)

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