The House Judiciary Committee will be sending document requests to more than sixty Trump-related people and entities tomorrow, and we’ve learned that Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are among them. This has led some observers to ask what the point is of these requests, and what results they’re likely to yield. It’s actually a rather potent tactic, but not for the reason some might think.
Is anyone really expecting Donald Trump’s kids to fork over documents that incriminate themselves and/or their family? Perhaps not. But it’s a no-win situation for them either way. They can’t just conveniently omit the incriminating documents while turning over everything else. House Democrats surely already have copies of some of the documents being requested, and Trump’s kids don’t know which ones, so they don’t know what they can get away with omitting.
For that matter, some of the other people involved (Allen Weisselberg and Rhona Graff are also on the list) might be less inclined to go down with the Trump ship, so they might be willing to turn over the Trump Organization documents that Trump’s kids might try to omit or destroy. Then the House Democrats would have Trump’s kids nailed for obstruction of justice, which would make it far easier for the Democrats to take an even more aggressive posture toward them.
There’s a reason a document request is sometimes referred to as a “document trap.” If you play by the rules, you have to turn over incriminating evidence against yourself. If you try to flaunt the rules, you risk incriminating yourself in the process. And because each person receiving the request doesn’t know how all of the others are going to respond, it’ll become rather easy for the House Judiciary Committee to nail anyone who’s trying to obstruct the investigation.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report