Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Trump's Lawyers Actually State, In Court Filings, The Best Way To Solve Issue Of
Classified Documents Is To Charge Trump With Federal Crimes And Put Him On Trial

Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC:
Donald Trump's lawyers – in writing – went so far as to invite a criminal prosecution of Donald Trump to determine whether the documents are classified and whether or not they belong to Donald Trump. The Trump lawyers actually said, in writing, ". . . whether some of the listed property does not, in fact, belong to Plaintiff is a matter better dealt with on summary judgment or at trial."

Or at trial. There are Donald Trump's lawyers – in writing – today – to a federal appeals court – saying the way to determine who should have these documents is to charge Donald Trump with federal crimes and put him on trial. [shakes head]

After a day of Trump lawyering like today, you don't have to be a TV fiction-drama writer, like I used to be, to be left wondering: If Donald Trump's lawyers secretly were working against him, wanting him to be convicted of crimes, would they have done or said anything different today?

I mean, think about it. It was Donald Trump's lawyers who suggested Raymond Dearie as the special master, the special master who said today that he might not even look at the classified documents before ruling in favour of the prosecution. And it is Donald Trump's lawyers who have told the special master and the appeals court that the way to find out if [laughs] Donald Trump is going to claim that he declassified those documents while he was president is to charge him with a crime. They are inviting federal prosecutors to charge him with a crime.

The highest-priced lawyer in the room today – the one Donald Trump is paying $3 million of his contributors' money – didn't say a word – not one word. And he's considered the most competent lawyer on the Trump side.

At what point does Donald Trump begin to wonder which side are his lawyers really on?

The Justice Department is investigating Trump for violating (at least) three federal statutes:

18 U.S. Code §793 (the Espionage Act), which includes the refusal to return national security documents upon request. Penalty: up to 10 years in prison and being disqualified from holding any office in the United States.

18 U.S. Code §1519, which includes the act of concealing documents or records "with the intent to impede, obstruct or influence the . . . proper administration of any matter" within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies. Penalty: up to 20 years in prison per offense (i.e., per document).

18 U.S. Code §2071, which includes the theft or destruction of government documents.  Penalty: up to three years in prison per offense.

All three statutes state that it does not matter whether the documents at issue were classified or unclassified. Whether Trump declassified any of the documents (and he didn't) is a moot point on which many journalists seem stuck. Discussing classification is playing the game by Trump's made-up rules.

Everything, literally everything, that has been reported to date shows unequivocally that Trump violated all three statutes. Indeed, neither he nor any of his lawyers have offered even one word of explanation as to why he was in possession of 60 boxes of government documents (which he initially told federal investigators were nothing but 12 boxes of "newspaper clippings") at the athletic-and-supper club where he lives.

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