October 5, 2022

Trump’s strategy in the classified documents case is quickly crumbling

5 min read

The case has turned against the former president and the Justice Department in recent days, suggesting that the classic Trump legal strategy of delay, denial and distraction isn’t working as it should.

In a sense, Trump is being given every opportunity to prove his day in court and his statements. The Department of Justice is investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice regarding the misuse of classified documents. There is no indication yet that he will be charged.

The search, an unprecedented move against a former president, raised questions about whether the DOJ overreached given the fraught political sensitivity of the case — especially since Trump has shown every sign of it. Which they are preparing for. Another run for the White House in 2024.

But if the former president can’t prove his allegations, as many outside observers expect, his legitimacy will be severely damaged.

It may be telling here that Trump’s lawyers, who believe he cannot lie under oath, have not repeated many of the former president’s statements to the judge. So the latest twist in the case finds them torn between their responsibility to tell the truth and their client’s famously flexible notion of facts and reality.

A classic Trump strategy

The former president’s strategy is a familiar one, and has been remarkably successful throughout his long and controversial business and political career.

Trump often substitutes a legal defense for public relations, seeking to impose accountability on institutions, government departments, courts, officials, and the media, or asking them to substantiate their allegations with facts. His strong support among grassroots GOP supporters reflects Trump’s knack for crafting a version of events that can become a politically powerful narrative.

Trump often seems to launch a new counterattack on the spot to get him through a particularly difficult moment, as he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday that the president One can easily declassify a document just by thinking about it in his head – a ludicrous insult to the intelligence process.

However, when allegations that work well as political tactics come up against the factual threshold of the courtroom, where statements must be made under penalty of perjury.

“The strength of our courts is that they have a way of getting the truth out,” CNN legal analyst Eli Honig said Thursday on “Erin Burnett OutFront,” adding that anyone can say what they want in public or in the media. “But when you step into court, eventually, and it’s happening sooner rather than later here, the judge or the jury will say, ‘OK, this is your charge, now prove it.’

The tension between Trump’s public statements and what is now admissible in court is reminiscent of what happened after the 2020 election. Trump and his political associates have made extreme accusations of voter fraud and fraud in public. But their claims have been repeatedly rejected by multiple courts after their lawyers either failed to produce evidence or refused to repeat the allegations before a judge.

Unless the former president can provide credible evidence of FBI wrongdoing and that he has gone through the legal declassification process for the documents. Soon, he’ll likely have more bad days on the court than the one he experienced this week.

“It’s just going to expose that lie. Lawyers know they can’t lie to a judge, they can be sanctioned, they can be disbarred,” Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County, Florida’s est. The attorney said on the “situation room.” With Wolf Blitzer.”

“Trump can say whatever he wants with impunity in public, but it’s different for his lawyers,” added Aronberg, who is a Democrat.

The special master punctured Trump’s strategy.

A case that changed the political world took a new twist when Judge Raymond Derry, the court-appointed special master, said in a filing on Thursday that Trump’s team must submit an affidavit stating whether it believes the Justice Department has included items in its “inventory” of material taken from Mar-a-Lago that are in fact searchable; were not seized during

Trump’s claims to the effect sparked a political uproar immediately after the search, and were widely picked up by conservative media hosts and even some prominent GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But now there may be a price to pay for Trump.

It was the second time this week that Derry, who was recommended by the former president’s team for the role of special master to filter the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago, dealt a blow to his defense. . After Trump’s lawyers refused to claim in court that Trump had not disclosed the documents he took to the resort, Derry told them, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. “

In the second major move in the case this week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Reversed the decision of the lower court. That prevented the Justice Department from examining nearly 100 classified documents that were taken from Mar-a-Lago. Again, the judges — two of whom were appointed by Trump to the three-judge panel — balked at the idea that the documents had been declassified.

“There is no evidence in the record that any of these records were declassified,” the court ruling said. had declassified any of these documents”.

It came on the same day that Trump’s legal exposure deepened on multiple fronts after the state of New York filed a civil lawsuit against him, his three adult children and the Trump Organization alleging massive insurance and tax fraud. A range of severe penalties. Trump said he was the victim of another example of political persecution and denied the allegations against him.

Republicans make room for Trump.

The apparent erosion of Trump’s legal position is simultaneously softening the former president’s base of support among his party’s senior senators.

Asked on Fox News about Trump’s claim that he could declassify documents just by thinking about it, Senate GOP Whip John Thune told CNN There is a process to destroy documents.

“I think it should be enforced and enforced. And I think it should apply to anyone who has access to or deals with classified information,” the South Dakota Republican said.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN that he believes there is a process a president must follow to declassify records.

“I believe there is a formal process that needs to go through, that needs to go through and be documented,” Tellis said. . . . As I understand the executive branch needs, there is a process that needs to go through.”

Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the handling of classified documents a “very serious” problem.

“People can get hurt, people can be killed if it’s not stored properly, and if that information gets out,” Rounds told CNN’s Manu Raju. told.

Other GOP senators deflected questions about the issue.

Indiana Sen. “I think the president has a prerogative to classify it,” said Mike Brown, Indiana Sen. Mike Brown said, showing that while the former president’s legal strategy may be quickly falling apart, there are still Republican lawmakers who fear the political cost of crossing the border. It

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