The ritual is repeated. The activity in the courts intensifies with statements and new evidence, the investigators advance and the former president Donald Trump prepares the ground and warns that charging him would be an injustice fruit of "political interference" to prevent him from returning to the White House. It is the same aroma of the indictment of late March, only this time it is for a potentially more serious case: the classified papers that the former president illegally retained at Mar-A-Lago, his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
Procedurally, the last relevant step is that prosecutors have told Trump's lawyers that the former president is the subject of the investigation into the handling of confidential documents that he took from the White House and kept in his mansion.
Not that there was much doubt that Trump was being investigated after the FBI showed up at his home with a search warrant in August of last year, the appointment of a special prosecutor, Jack Smith, to take over the case and all subsequent procedural steps. But the new notice is an indication that the prosecutor is likely to file charges against the former president and that the investigation is nearing its end. In addition, it has been learned that there are two grand juries examining the case, one in Washington and one in Miami.
On Monday, Trump's lawyers met with the special counsel for nearly two hours at the Justice Department. The lawyers were photographed at the entrance and exit, but declined to give details of the meeting. A message from Trump on his social network, however, already gave a clue: "How is it possible that the DOJ [Department of Justice] accuses me, that I have done nothing wrong, when no other president has been indicted (...) Just Trump. The greatest witch hunt of all time!" he wrote in a message on his social network, Truth, all in capital letters in which he launched accusations against Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
This Wednesday, Trump has returned to the charge with two other messages. "Wow, this is becoming the biggest and most ruthless case of ELECTION INTERFERENCE in the history of our country," begins the first, adding: "They're launching all the fake investigations against me right in the middle of my campaign, something that's unheard of and not supposed to happen." the FBI and prosecutors in New York and Atlanta are: "FASCISTS ALL!"
Another message came after John Solomon, a journalist close to Trump who acts as his representative, said the indictment was imminent and had already been communicated to Trump. He has denied it: "No one has told me I'm being indicted, and I shouldn't be because I haven't done ANYTHING wrong, but I've assumed for years that I'm a target of the DOJ & FBI instrumentalized," he wrote.
The indictment of the former president would be a qualitative leap in a case that caused the search of his Mar-A-Lago mansion in Palm Beach (Florida). The content of the search warrant already revealed then that the former president was being investigated for possible crimes of obstruction of justice, concealment, removal or fraudulent mutilation of public documents and violations of the Espionage Act, apparently for the fraudulent retention of national security documents. These are crimes that can carry fines or jail time.
FBI agents who searched Trump's mansion found thousands of documents that the former president improperly retained there, including a hundred with classification marks with varying degrees of confidentiality. The former president had ignored the requirements to deliver them, which justified the registration.
In recent weeks, some other information about the investigation has emerged. The Washington Post revealed that two Trump employees moved boxes of papers at Mar-a-Lago just one day before the Justice Department visited the former president's residence with the request to collect classified documents, which along with other evidence that the special counsel has been collecting can shore up the accusation of obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors also obtained a recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges that he kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran, according to a report published by CNN. The recording is incriminating evidence against Donald Trump, who has sometimes claimed that he had declassified all the documents that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found in the search of his Mar-A-Lago mansion in Palm Beach (Florida).
One of Trump's usual tactics is to try to delay and hinder the investigation with continuous judicial resources. Thanks to one of those resources, a federal judge in Florida, Aileen M. Cannon, appointed by Trump himself shortly before his dismissal, ordered the Department of Justice and the FBI to stop their investigative work with all the documents found in the registry while a special expert reviewed them.
The objective was to see if they could affect the lawyer-client privilege (which protects professional secrecy in the relations of an investigated with his lawyers) or the executive privilege (which allows the executive branch to deny information about ongoing actions to another branch, such as the legislative or judicial), despite the fact that Trump no longer holds public office.
A court, however, overturned the judge's decision. First, last September it cautiously suspended the blocking of the investigation into the documents classified as confidential or secret that the FBI seized in early August in the Mar-a-Lago registry. Then, he ruled on the merits of the matter, with a sentence that left Judge Cannon in a very bad place: "The law is clear. We cannot issue a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we dictate a rule that allows only former presidents to do so," he said at the end of his 21-page decision.
In addition, the court pointed out that the judge had no competence to issue her decision, which justified in the extraordinary that it is to practice a search in the house of a former president. "It is certainly extraordinary that a warrant is executed at the home of a former president, but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives license to the judiciary to interfere in an ongoing investigation," said the three judges, two of whom were also appointed by Trump himself. Creating a special exception here would challenge our nation's founding principle that our law applies to everyone, regardless of number, wealth or rank.
As the investigation into Trump continued, the Justice Department shelved the investigation into classified documents improperly taken to his home after Trump Vice President Mike Pence left office. The prosecution informed Pence of the closure of the investigation in a letter dated June 1 in which it assured that no charges would be filed.
At the end of January, it was learned that the aides of Trump's former vice president discovered in his home in Indiana a dozen documents with classification marks as secret. Pence thus joined Trump himself and the current president, Joe Biden, who also improperly took confidential documents to their private homes. In Biden's case, as in Trump's, the Justice Department appointed an attorney general to take charge of the investigation.
Pence's case involved "a small number of documents with classified marks that were inadvertently boxed in and transported to the former vice president's personal home at the end of the last administration," Pence's lawyer wrote in a dated letter sent to the National Archives, the institution that must guard documents and records when presidents and vice presidents leave office.
Trump, who was convicted in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, has other judicial fronts open. A New York judge has set for March 25 the trial of the case in which he is charged with 34 counts of falsehood derived from three payments to hide scandals (one of them an extramarital affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels) in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis, who is investigating whether he illegally interfered in Georgia's 2020 election, has said she plans to announce in the coming months whether to file charges. Willis has hinted that possible indictments will come in August. · In a letter to county Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville, he said he plans to have much of his staff work remotely most days during the first three weeks of August and asked that judges not schedule in-person trials and hearings for part of that time for security reasons.
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