• Indictments over Classified. Not Biden, and Not Pence. So Why Trump?

    June 12, 2023

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Biden, Democracy, Trump

    Donald Trump is the first president in history to be indicted for Federal crimes, in this case a series of eight charges each with multiple counts totaling 37 centering on his taking highly classified materials with him to Mar-a-Lago from the White House in January 2021. The charges also implicate Trump and a close aide, Waltine Nauta, in a conspiracy to hide the documents in whole or in part from the National Archives (NARA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and his own legal team, and making false statements along those same lines.

    Hundreds of documents are of concern, classified at the highest levels with origins at CIA, NSA, and elsewhere in the intelligence community. While leaks and speculation prior to the unsealing of the indictment suggested this was a routine Espionage Act case, i.e., you have possession of some classified documents and thus must be guilty, the indictment lays out a damming parallel set of evidence for obstruction, including a suggestion that Trump was prepared to have his lawyers shred some of the offending documents.

    Though Biden’s handling of classified remains an active investigation, Mike Pence was recently absolved of any criminal intent in his own mishandling of secret paper. Many people believe the same result will come of the Biden case. What makes Trump’s case so materially different that the Special Prosecutor is prepared to throw the book at him and his aide?

    The key seems to be the egregiousness of Trump’s actions coupled with his attempt to cover up his actions. Lawyers call it an “aggravating factor,” making clear the charged actions were not accidental. It looks like they may have it.

    The indictment shows in great detail efforts Trump made to conceal the documents both from NARA and the DOJ, and from members of his own legal team. Dozens of boxes containing mementos and paperwork from his administration were assembled by Trump over his four years in the White House. These included, all mixed together, everything from newspaper clippings to notes from Kim Jong Un to highly secretive war plans aimed at Iran. These boxes were transported to Mar-a-Lago by commercial means, itself a violation of numerous security regulations. Within Mar-a-Lago the documents were not always kept under lock and key, at one point being piled on the stage in one of the ballrooms (a photo of this is included with the indictment; another included photo shows boxes spilling classified documents onto the floor of a storage room, and a third showing the boxes in a shower room.) There is evidence to suggest Trump instructed his staff to better hide some of the documents from his own lawyers when they undertook a search in response to a NARA subpoena, and then again ahead of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. This may have led to Trump losing two lawyers just hours after being indicted, as Jim Trusty and John Rowley announced they’d resigned.

    Further under the heading of egregiousness, the indictment suggests a tape recording exists of one of at least two instances where Trump showed off the documents to people without security clearances. In the tape Trump admits the document at hand is classified, and in a schoolboy-like way says he should not be showing it to a writer, a publisher, and two Trump staffers. Trump acknowledging that he knew a document in his possession was still classified stands at odds with his public claims that he had declassified all the materials he took and likely removes this defense strategy from the upcoming trial.

    The indictment further claims Trump obstructed the investigation into his handling of classified materials in a number of ways, to include telling his attorneys to claim he did not have the documents subpoenaed, directing his aide Nauta to move boxes to conceal them from his own lawyers, and then from the FBI/DOJ and then from the grand jury, suggesting his lawyer destroy some of the documents, claiming he was cooperating fully when he was actively concealing documents from disclosure, and submitting a false certification that all requested document had been submitted. Nauta is listed as a co-conspirator on most of those allegations, with phone records and internal surveillance tapes connecting statements made and actions taken by the two men.

    Trump also appears to have used the boxes moving like a shell game to hide information from Christina Bobb, who was serving as the formal custodian of records. The indictment makes clear she did not know the statements in her attestation that everything had been turned over to the DOJ were false, and she has not been charged.

    The indictment also claims Trump helped to pack boxes at the White House, which rebuts a common defense in these sorts of cases, that the retention of documents was a clerical error by staff and not intentional.

    While understanding the contents of the indictment give only one side of the story and that Trump will defend himself when the case comes to trial likely in the spring, the evidence available seems significant. Trump clearly possessed classified documents outside proper storage areas, and “injury to the United States,” a requirement of the law, should be fairly easy to prove given the dramatic nature of some of the documents and the casual manner in which Trump handled them, to include showing off war plans to a writer and publisher. This part of the case follows standard lines in an Espionage Act prosecution. Trump’s actions appear to go well beyond anything Mike Pence did with his classified or anything that Biden has so far been accused of.

    However, it is the charges of obstruction which are most significant in this case. One of the key elements of obstruction is proving a state of guilty mind — mens rea — and that will be the crux of the actual prosecution based on the Mar-a-Lago documents. What was Trump thinking at the time, in other words, did he have specific intent to obstruct some investigation? A jury might find Trump’s actions alone speak to intent, his active attempts to hide physical boxes of documents from first his lawyers and then investigators, for example.

    But the joker in the deck is Waltine Nauta, Trump’s close aide who is charged alongside Trump on the obstruction and lying allegations. Nauta faces potentially decades in jail, serious time. It appears his being charged may be an attempt to get him to testify directly to Trump’s intent and state of mind, by recalling actual instructions and conversations. If Nauta accepts some sort of plea deal in return for such testimony, it is hard to see a jury letting Donald Trump off on these charges. But where things go after that, politics-wise, is anybody’s guess at this early stage.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      An ABC News/Ipsos survey published on Sunday found that 80% of polled Republicans said they believe the charges against Trump are politically motivated, while only 9% of GOP voters said they didn’t see politics in the charges.

      Separately, in a CBS News/YouGov poll published on Sunday, 61% of polled Republican voters said the indictment did not change the way they viewed Trump, while 80% of Republicans said he should still be able to assume office if he’s convicted and wins the 2024 presidential election.

      So the majority of Repugs said the indictment did not change the view they viewed Trump. Of course 100% of Dems said the indictment did not change the way they viewed Trump. Both view Trump as a moral degenerate who would destroy the country for his personal gain.

      It is easy to guess where this is going politics-wise: Trump will be the GOP 2024 candidate. Trump will lose the popular vote by more than 8,000,000 and hinder the down ticket candidates.

      06/13/23 8:55 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      And when Trump loses…again…he will try to seek asylum with Kushner in Saudi.

      06/13/23 10:42 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Why would a jury chose to believe the Waltine Nauta’s potentially damning testimony? No one likes a weasel who might choose to turn against his boss.

      06/13/23 8:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      While great minds look for complicated reasons to explain Demented’s actions to hide his “beautiful mind paper boxes” , they overlook the simplest one: Demented is suffering from significant cognitive decline that most hoarders do. The constant stress of his legal troubles will increase this decline. By the time the debates are scheduled Demented will not be capable of remembering answers to the questions posed. His dementia will result in more frequent angry outbursts and paranoid rants. It will reach the point that Fox News will be too embarrassed to watch.

      Trump’s beautiful mind will go to prison. Will it be one for the criminally insane?

      06/14/23 7:39 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      DEMENTED will have many firsts in addition to the first Presidense to be indicted.

      First to lose the popular vote three times.

      First Presidense to be sent to prison. LOCK HIM UP!

      First Presidense to rat on his son-in-law for taking bribes. (Hunter: WHEW, that was too close.)

      First Presidense to destroy a major propaganda network.

      First Presidense to entrap right-wing extremists into assaulting police officers.

      First will be last. Donald Trump – anagram “damn turd Pol” -his political career came down the golden escalator and ended in the golden toilet. Flush and flush again that stubborn turd.

      06/15/23 9:03 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bauer: I doubt a trial will happen soon and even then Trump has a notable skill at delays. He already has his appointed for life worshipful acolyte in charge. Clever guy.

      06/15/23 11:21 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      If you didn’t think the Trumpist Cult wasn’t a bullshit cult like their fat bullshit leader, then a Monmouth University poll should give you the Jim Jones.

      The poll found just 14 percent of Republicans said they would be “very concerned” if the nuclear secrets documents Trump had “fell into the wrong hands.” But 62 percent said the same of Biden’s classified documents. This despite Biden’s documents being significantly less voluminous and including far fewer “top secret” documents.

      Of course, no sane person would be unconcerned if the Trump top secret nuclear secret documents were given to a Russian spy. As cults go, the Trumpees are mostly bullshitters who didn’t drink the Trump kool-aid. Come on, if these racist assholes really believed the election was stolen, as Fox fake News told them, they would have turned the tv off, got off their fat asses and stormed the White House. But these polls are bullshit when you ask Trumpist cult bullshitters.

      06/16/23 12:58 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Only after Demented completes his mission to tank the national election again will the Deep State send his fat ass to federal prison. Examples must be made. There can be no forgiveness for his dangerous crimes, as it would open every federal case against whistleblowers, as well as traitors, to claim SELECTIVE PROSECUTION.

      Of course, any prison time for Demented will be a death sentence, as he likely won’t live longer than three year years. Probably will be released due to failing health. Sitting in a cold cell would hasten his end. The End.

      06/17/23 9:46 AM | Comment Link

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