WASHINGTON ― If Donald Trump seems more desperate than most incumbents about the coming election, he may have good reason: Presidents do not typically have to worry about going to prison if they lose.
But Trump’s activities in recent years ― from paying hush money to a porn star to his claiming of a massive tax refund to obstructing an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia ― combined with a ticking statute of limitations clock potentially make Election Day far more consequential for him than it had been for his predecessors.
If Trump wins a second term, the time limit for starting a prosecution would run out in the next four years for a number of those activities, given Justice Department guidelines not to prosecute a sitting president. If Trump loses, indictments could quickly follow.
“Winning this election for him is not an option. It’s a necessity,” said Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” who was sentenced for, among other charges, arranging illegal payments to keep women he’d had affairs with from speaking out before the 2016 election.
There’s so much criminality here.Nick Ackerman, former federal prosecutor
“He knows that if his tax returns are revealed that he and his children ― Don Jr., Ivanka, Eric ― and others will be charged with a host of criminal tax issues, which will not only cost him his freedom but his entire business,” Cohen said.
Neither the White House nor the Trump campaign responded to HuffPost queries for this report.
Trump was already described as “Individual-1” in Cohen’s prosecution. With a five-year statute of limitations for many federal crimes, the clock would run out on the hush money cases in late 2021.
Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who a year ago served as the lead lawyer in the House’s impeachment of Trump, said an ex-President Trump in 2021 could also face charges of bribery for his commutation of aide Roger Stone’s prison sentence as well as...