If the special counsel doesn't act soon Trump could run out the 2024 clock: Ex-House Judiciary lawyer
Jack Smith, Donald Trump (Smith photo by Robin Van Lonkhuijsen for AFP/ Trump by Saul Loeb for AFP)

Writing for the MSNBC blog, former House Judiciary counsel Michael Conway warned that special counsel Jack Smith is running out of time if he intends to act on any possible charges for Donald Trump.

He cited a recent report from the New York Times describing Smith as following the money of the Trump campaign after he and his allies developed a campaign alleging 2020 fraud that cost him the final tally. Trump told his donors he was going after lawsuits and election challenges, but at a certain point, Trump stopped the lawsuits but still claimed he needed the donations.

"If accurate, Smith’s prosecutorial instinct to pursue his investigation wherever the facts lead — while ordinarily laudable — could become a recipe for delay in this case," wrote Conway. But if Smith doesn't do something in time, it could mean voters head to the polls without knowing the outcome of the suit.

Ironically, Republicans have claimed that the Justice Department is being weaponized against Republicans. But the DOJ not taking politics into account means they're not taking the 2024 election into account, either.

There are several suites Trump is facing around the country, but Conway argued Smith's should be of primary importance" because "those probes can comprehensively redress the illegal efforts to undermine our democracy on Jan. 6 and the national security risk of retaining classified documents at Mar-a-Lago."

He explained it isn't worth it if the time diversion means longer delays. There's also the matter of Donald Trump's own personal delays if his lawyers manage motion after motion and extend the pre-trial timeline.

He then cited federal statistics showing "the median time it takes for a criminal felony to move from indictment to disposition in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is nearly 18 months." That's not even a case as complicated as Trump's could be.

"Moreover, the average number of defendants per case in this sample is 1.3 persons," Conway also wrote. "If Smith indicts Trump along with many (or any) potential co-conspirators, the complexity of the trial will increase. And so will the delays."

That could mean Trump's trial wouldn't even start until as late as November 2024. If Trump were elected, it would mean he could shut down the entire trial by forcing his newly appointed Justice Department chief to clean house of all prosecutors and investigators.

Conway pointed to another concern: the fundraising aspect of the case might not fit inside the assignment given by Attorney General Merrick Garland. While Garland allowed Smith to look into Jan. 6 with a broad allowance of possible crimes, he didn't say anything about wire fraud around possible campaign finance violations.

It might not matter if Trump was the leading candidate for the GOP with no other chance of someone overtaking him. While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen his numbers fall over the past month, he is still likely to announce he's running for president after the Florida legislative session has ended.

"For the sake of the country, Smith needs to wrap up his investigation and make his recommendation to the attorney general as soon as possible," Conway closed. "With each passing day the risk grows that any criminal charges against Trump will be pending in November 2024. If that happens, American voters will serve as Trump’s jury."