It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump and his criminal defense team will ever stop playing silly games and start trying to craft an actual trial defense. But it’s already clear that the only type of defense Trump could try to pursue at this point would be based in the narrowest of reasonable doubt.
Trump’s lawyers could try to argue that he was essentially a deer in the headlights: He merely took classified documents that he mistakenly thought were legally his right to take. He had no ill intent when it came to them. He never even did anything. In fact the only reason he didn’t return them when asked was that he feared he was being set up. But the documents just sat there and no harm was done. He didn’t even look at them!
Of course no one would believe such an argument. But reasonable doubt isn’t about what a jury believes. It’s about whether the jury, having decided it believes Trump is guilty, thinks there might be even the smallest chance that it’s wrong. And that requires Trump having an explanation which, if not believable, is at least possible.
It looks like that notion of reasonable doubt just went out the window rather emphatically. A federal judge just released a more detailed inventory of what the Feds seized from Donald Trump’s home, and it included dozens empty folders that had contained classified documents. Had contained classified documents.
This means Donald Trump wasn’t just sitting on classified documents. He took dozens of classified documents out of their clearly marked folders and never put them back. Where did these documents go? Where they seized somewhere else in Trump’s home? Did he lose them? Did he rip them up? Did he sell them?
Just how lengthy of a prison sentence Donald Trump ends up with will depend on the severity of what he did with these classified documents once he took them out of their folders. But the mere fact that he took dozens of classified documents from their folders, and never put them back, wipes out any last traces of a reasonable doubt defense that Trump might have ever been able to concoct. No wonder Trump has skipped past that and is reduced to yelling things. These empty folders reveal that Trump is finished
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report