Donald Trump just lost the document request game

Today is the deadline for eighty-one people and entities to turn over all relevant documents in Donald Trump’s scandals to the House Judiciary Committee. Trump and his lawyers seem to think they’ve landed on a clever response to the document request. The trouble for them: that’s not how any of this works.

Donald Trump and his lawyers have announced that they don’t have to turn over any documents, because the House Judiciary Committee merely asked for the same documents they perviously turned over to Robert Mueller, and they didn’t turn over any documents to Robert Mueller. Nice try, but this isn’t a legal defense, and it won’t help at all when this becomes a subpoena battle in court.

Not that it matters anyway. Here’s the thing about a wide-scale document request effort like this. No one is expecting Donald Trump and his team to cooperate. But nearly every document they’re sitting on is likely also in the possession of other people on the list of eighty-one names, and plenty of those people are going to turn over their copies of those documents. For instance, if two people have a conversation over email or text messaging, they both have a full record of the conversation, and only one of them has to turn it over.

Donald Trump and his team can pat themselves on the back all they like for what they think is a clever response here. But they don’t appear to understand what’s going on here. In order to “win” this round, they would have had to convince every last one of those eighty-one recipients not to cooperate. There’s no chance that happened. Trump lost this round.