The DOJ had to know that once it carried out the search and seizure warrant against Donald Trump, he would try this “I thought I had already declassified all the documents I took” defense. So, based on how various legal experts have assessed the unsealed warrant and listed charges, it appears the DOJ carefully crafted its criminal probe such that Trump wouldn’t be off the hook even if the documents were declassified. This is why it takes time for these kinds of cases to come to fruition. It’s also why Trump will be convicted.
Imagine if the DOJ had based the search warrant on a more simplistic argument that Trump was merely in illegal possession of classified documents. In such case he’d tell the jury that he honestly thought he’d declassified them, and if the jury saw it as a valid reasonable doubt argument, Trump would go free.
So the DOJ built its case on the premise that Trump wasn’t allowed to have these documents at his home, and refused to give them back, and lied about not having them, and voila, Trump is automatically guilty of espionage and obstruction. Whether anything was “classified” doesn’t even matter.
Obviously, if it turns out Trump stole nuclear secrets (reported), or particularly if he tried to sell them (unknown), that would merit additional, even more severe charges. But that would just be piling on. The point is to make certain that Trump is nailed on more straightforward charges, such as being illegally in possession of documents and obstruction.
As things now stand, based just on what’s in the unsealed search warrant, the Feds already have a jury-proof criminal case against Trump on multiple serious charges. We just don’t know if the DOJ will indict Trump on this now and then indict on January 6th-related and election fraud-related charges later, or if the DOJ will wait until it’s ready to bring all of the charges at once.
Trump and his people are making a big mistake if they think they can defeat an airtight federal criminal case by fighting it in the media. Criminal trials don’t work that way. Ask Steve Bannon. He seemed to think he could beat the rap by running his mouth. The judge and jury ended up seeing it differently.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report