Law and Legal

Trump case nears finish line as lawyers head for exit

(Photo by Vin McNamee/Getty Images)

Judging by the hassle coming from Trumpworld, it looks like Special Counsel Jack Smith is nearing completion of his investigation into government documents seized at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

First, attorney Timothy Parlatore went out of line, only going on CNN to whine to Paula Reed that Boris Epstein, Trump’s attorney/assistant/Michael Cohen 2.0, was to blame for all of Trump’s legal troubles and “really did everything could, to try to block us, to prevent us from doing everything in our power to protect the president.”

“It served as a kind of filter to prevent us from passing information to the client so that we would not receive information from the client,” Parlatore continued. “In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or with the client on some things.”

Trump’s remaining lawyers then demanded to speak to the Justice Department manager, sending this ridiculous letter asking him to meet with Attorney General Merrick Garland “to discuss the ongoing injustices that your Special Counsel and his prosecutors are perpetrating.” AG reportedly objects, though it seems more likely that the letter was a “Hail Mary” directed at Trump’s congressional allies than the Justice Department – after all, he did it, CC “Congressional Representatives”, not, Let’s say the head of the criminal department.

And all the while, Trump is screaming bloody murders on Truth Social. Yesterday, he blurted out some bullshit about former Attorney General Bill Barr being hands-off in the prosecution of political candidates, and “Now Biden’s thugs want to indict me, NO WAY!” (The Hillary Clinton “BUT HER E-MAILS” investigation was not closed until January 2020, when Bill Barr set up a special mechanism to receive Rudy Giuliani’s Biden Ukraine rant and appointed a special adviser to hunter Biden’s tax investigation.)

But even aside from the howling of Trump and his lawyers, both major national newspapers run scathing reports almost daily suggesting that the case of the stolen documents is nearing completion.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that prosecutors were focusing on the period between May, when the Justice Department subpoenaed Trump to obtain documents, and August 8, when it executed a search warrant and uncovered dozens more classified documents. The article expands on an earlier decision by Judge Beryl Howell, which described a “dress rehearsal” in which Trump went through boxes of documents and had some of them moved so he wouldn’t have to give up those he considered his personal property. Witnesses include workers who helped Trump’s valet Walt Nauta move boxes in and out of the vault ahead of the June Mar-a-Lago meeting between Trump lawyers Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt.

The New York Times confirmed the Post’s report, including details about a secret map that may have been shown to reporters or donors. The newspaper also received new details about Judge Howell’s previous ruling, issued in a sealed memo overruling Corcoran’s attorney-client confidentiality requirements under the criminal fraud exception.

“Other evidence demonstrates that the former president deliberately attempted to preserve classified documents when he was not authorized to do so and knew it,” she allegedly wrote, suggesting prosecutors were focusing on the mens rea aspects of USC 18. §§ 793 and 18 USC §§ 2071 charges.

The former chief judge was also highly skeptical of attempts by Trump’s lawyers to accuse underlings of carelessly tossing government documents into boxes and sending them to the president’s private club at the end of the administration’s term.

“Notably, no excuse is given for how the former president could have overlooked secret documents found in his own bedroom in Mar-a-Lago,” she wrote.

Both articles contain the obligatory outraged rebuttal from Trump’s spoxer Steven Cheng, who makes the same irritable statement five times a week with zero effect. We may know that things are indeed coming to a head and an indictment is imminent as Trump’s social media posts become dangerously erratic.

Oh wait…

Trump workers moved boxes from Mar-a-Lago the day before the FBI came for documents (WaPo)
Mar-a-Lago worker gives prosecutors new details of Trump papers case (NYT)

Liz Dai lives in Baltimore, where he writes about law and politics and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.

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