The defenses in the weeks after FBI agents landed at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort have only exposed the depth of the mess he faced over his refusal to return classified documents, which led to a former There was an unprecedented search of the President’s house.
As he continues to unwittingly give new openings to the Justice Department, there are also signs Trump’s rapidly growing drain on Trump’s timing and focus is having a political impact as he heads for the launch of a potential 2024 White House bid, as CNN Considers delays in your timeline. Gabby Orr and Kristen Holmes reported Wednesday.
But Trump has not done so with the time-honored strategy of trying to delay, distort and tie the legal system into knots, which throughout his life in business and politics have often been able to postpone or prevent accountability. has been successful.
In a legal filing with the trademark chutzpah ahead of a crucial new court hearing in Florida on Wednesday, Trump made one of the main arguments he’d had for days — that he deleted documents he already had found on his property. was.
In a head-spinning pivot, Trump’s legal team effectively argued that no one should be shocked that he had classified documents at home—he was once president, after all.
“Simply put, the notion that the President’s record will contain sensitive information should never have been a cause for alarm,” the filing said.
The bald-faced statement was a classic Trumpian tactic. It recalled the former president’s insistence that an official account of a conversation in which he apparently forced Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden with a promise of military aid, to the contrary, was evidence of “a right call”. was.
Trump’s approach immediately gives his supporters new material to muddy the waters at the GOP and conservative media, distort the case against him, and accuse the DOJ and FBI of political motives.
But he did not answer the main questions swirling around him in the matter of documents. These include: Why did a former president need material, some holding the highest positions of classification in the intelligence community? And why did he put material that could potentially harm national security and put US agents abroad at risk, in unsafe locations in his heavily-packed resort?
And he also overlooked a fundamental principle underlying the Justice Department investigation: According to US law, the papers of former presidents do not belong to the person who once sat in the Oval Office. They belong to the nation and should be in the custody of the National Archives—an agency that made exhaustive efforts to retrieve Trump’s race—before turning to the Justice Department.
Often Trump’s political and legal strategies cross-pollinate. It was highly successful in the Ukraine call case, which led to his first impeachment, although he avoided a conviction in the Senate, which could have removed him from office.
However, the complication here is that Trump is not facing political scrutiny but a ruling of the law. And recent days show he has been deeply exposed — not least because of a Tuesday filing by the Justice Department that erased several of his previous defenses and raised the possibility that Trump and his lawyers would be subjected to obstruction. may face charges.
Yet Trump’s Wednesday filing, in support of his call for the appointment of an independent officer known as a Special Master, to find out whether the FBI had taken legally privileged documents from his home , may still work for them in the short term. If a judge agrees with his broad definition of the role, Trump could throw a stick at the investigation’s spokesperson.
He may be able to initiate court challenges inherent in legal and executive privilege claims that may be trivial but will take time to work through the system. And he could challenge the Presidential Records Act through various and entire levels of the legal system. Trump’s request will be heard at 1 pm. ET Thursday.
If he can move the investigation into 2023 and possibly beyond, it could conflict with the presidential campaign and the episode as a political attempt by the Biden administration to thwart Trump’s return to the White House. Illustrations might help. And that could once again frustrate political opponents who are desperate to quickly pay a price for their refusal to abide by presidential norms and persistent challenges to the rule of law.
This is one reason the DOJ urged the judge to equip a particular master with overly limited guidelines for the operation to be appointed.