A bevy of legal experts, reacting to new explosive reporting about the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, is convinced there is now enough evidence to charge former President Donald Trump with crimes.
Fresh details about the politically charged Justice Department inquiry, reported by the Washington Post and others on Wednesday, revealed a Trump employee told federal investigators that Trump himself ordered the moving of boxes stocked with records following a May subpoena for classified material, and security footage corroborated the account.
DOJ ASKS SUPREME COURT TO REJECT TRUMP’S REQUEST TO BLOCK USE OF CLASSIFIED MATERIALS
Government investigators are working to determine whether Trump committed a host of crimes, including those engaged with the destruction of government documents, mishandling of classified information, and obstruction.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has dubiously claimed that he declassified all the records taken from his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. But this new reporting has given his naysayers more reason to suspect he’s vulnerable to an indictment.
“There it is,” national security lawyer Bradley Moss tweeted.
“Between this and the testimony of Alex Cannon (to name just two recent developments) Trump’s MAL goose is cooked. As I have oft said, the issue is no longer the proof, but DOJ’s will. Trump worker told the FBI about moving MAL boxes on Trump’s orders,” tweeted former Mueller “pit bull” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.
Weissmann was referring to an attorney for Trumpwho assisted with the transfer of material to the National Archives but refused his request in February to say all the documents had been returned, according to the Washington Post.
Between this ️and the testimony of Alex Cannon (to name just two recent developments) Trump’s MAL goose is cooked.
As I have oft said, the issue is no longer the proof, but DOJ’s will.
Trump worker told FBI about moving MAL boxes on Trump’s orders https://t.co/H0HyWUNgse
— Andrew Weissmann (@AWeissmann_) October 12, 2022
“Astonishing level of evidence. That would convince jurors. Witnesses have told federal investigators: After subpoena for classified docs, ‘Trump told people to move boxes to his residence at the property’! ‘Corroborated by the security-camera footage,'” former Pentagon special counsel Ryan Goodman wrote on Twitter.
Astonishing level of evidence. That would convince judges.
Witnesses have told federal investigators:
After subpoena for classified docs, “Trump told people to move boxes to his residence at the property”!
“Corroborated by the security-camera footage”!https://t.co/PUv2j5H6kd
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) October 12, 2022
Goodman also pointed to court documents saying the Justice Department was investigating possible obstruction of justice. He specifically referenced a DOJ filing that claimed the federal agents uncovered evidence that documents had been concealed and moved from a storage room to hinder the investigation.
“The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the passage in the filing said.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti underscored how the Trump employee, who has not been identified, reportedly changed his story across multiple interviews with federal investigators to admit that he handled sensitive material when moving the boxes in Mar-a-Lago. Mariotti also emphasized that the subpoena against Trump came in May, before Trump reportedly gave the directive to reposition the boxes.
“The employee is unlikely to be charged if he continues to cooperate. But his testimony suggests that Trump tried to keep documents from the DOJ, which had already served a grand jury subpoena for the documents *before* the employee was ordered to move them, ” Mariotti tweeted.
A Trump employee told FBI agents that he moved boxes of government documents at Mar-a-Lago to Trump’s residence at Trump’s personal direction.
During the employee’s first interview, he lied to the FBI, denying handling documents. His story changed during the second interview. https://t.co/RIL8fklhq9
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 12, 2022
“This increases the chance of Trump being indicted after the upcoming election unless Garland is dead set against it,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Richard Signorelli.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has signaled he is open to charging Trump, if that is where the evidence leads, but some legal experts, such as Signorelli, fear he’ll get skittish despite what is uncovered.
This increases the chance of Trump being indicted after the upcoming election unless Garland is dead set against it.
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— Richard Signorelli (@richsignorelli) October 12, 2022
“They’ve basically found his fingerprints on the weapon,” said former Trump administration official Miles Taylor, who has become a regular critic of the former president.
WaPo: A Trump employee has told federal agents about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the specific direction of the former president.
They’ve basically found his fingerprints on the weapon.
— Miles Taylor (@MilesTaylorUSA) October 12, 2022
Trump and his team broadly accused the federal government of running the operation as a desperate play to damage an influential rival, who may yet run for office again, ahead of the elections. “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a Document Hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said. “Every other President has been given time and determination regarding the administration of documents.”
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Trump fired off a message on his social media platform Truth Social, sharing a link to a post by Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett argues that a former president can keep whatever presidential records he desires.
“There is no ‘crime’ having to do with the storage of documents at Mar-a-Lago, only in the minds of the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country, and were just forced by the Courts to give me back much of what they took (STOLE?) during their unprecedented and unnecessary break in of my home,” Trump said. “The Clinton ‘Socks Case,’ which is law, says it all belongs to ‘the President,’ NO CRIME, and the Presidential Record Act is simple, ‘negotiate,’ and NO CRIME. These people are CRAZY!!!”
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to clarify Andrew Weissmann was referring to Trump attorney Alex Cannon, not Aileen Cannon, the Trump-appointed federal judge presiding over the documents case who sided with the former president in allowing a special master to review documents taken by the FBI in an August raid of Mar-a-Lago to root out privileged material.
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