We have all the latest deets in the Donald Trump indictment Part Deux — and it’s ALL bad news for the former POTUS.
First up, we have more details on exactly what federal charges Trump is facing. The indictment was unsealed Friday morning, and it’s so much worse than expected…
The indictment was unsealed Friday morning, and the Celebrity Apprentice star is facing not seven charges as previously reported but 37. Thirty-seven felony charges!!!
Unbelievable. Perhaps more shockingly, 31 of those counts are for willful retention of national defense information. That’s a violation of the Espionage Act. All the reporting was accurate — these were not just classified, not just top secret — these are “national defense” documents. 31 of them — at least that he’s being charged over.
According to the 49-page indictment, the documents Trump took after leaving the White House came from all over. There were docs from the CIA, the NSA, the Department of Defense, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Energy, the Department of State and its Bureau of Intelligence Research. These docs “included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the U.S. and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for a possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
Potential vulnerabilities of the United States?? Nuclear secrets???
Yeah. Holy smokes.
The full list of charges are as follows:
- 31 counts – willful retention of national defense information
- 1 count – false statements and representations
- 1 count – conspiracy to obstruct justice
- 1 count – withholding a document or record
- 1 count – corruptly concealing a document
- 1 count – concealing a document in a federal investigation
- 1 count – scheme to conceal
According to the charging document, Trump didn’t just take these documents, he tried very hard to hide them from the government, even after they informed him he was in possession of what he shouldn’t be. Unlike Mike Pence or Joe Biden, he didn’t cooperate. He lied to the feds — and got others to lie for him.
As for the documents themselves, we also learned they weren’t just sitting in a secure storage room (secure by Mar-a-Lago standards, we mean). They got moved around all over the place, at one point being shoved into “a little room in the shower”. Crammed in next to the toilet. Yes, there was a photo…
JFC, this man was President of the United States. This is how he treated documents that could compromise the safety of US troops, of American lives.
OK, so what’s the proof Trump knew what he was doing was wrong? That he didn’t just accidentally take some documents with him? After all, he had access while he was president. Maybe he got confused? That’s obviously going to be the defense, right?
Well, that’s not how the willful retention of national defense information charges work. Per the Journal of National Security Law and Policy:
“Willful retention is not accidental, negligent, or reckless. Rather, a defendant only retains NDI willfully if he or she knows he or she possesses it and knows that such possession is prohibited due to the nature of the information.”
So we’re back to needing proof this wasn’t an accident, proof Trump knew what he was doing. Well, the indictment lays out some pretty glaring evidence…
Remember that tape we heard about? Where Trump tells some biographers about a classified doc? That meeting isn’t just brought up in the indictment, it’s quoted. Trump allegedly said, on tape,
“This is secret information, look at this…”
And went on to both describe and show the document, apparently about a plan of attack against a country, to people who did not have clearance. (Of course, he no longer had clearance either.) He then said, out loud:
“See as president, I could have declassified it. Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”
Absolute, smoking gun proof he knew he had a classified document that he did NOT have the authority to declassify anymore.
And that wasn’t the only incident. He allegedly showed “a classified map related to a military operation” to another individual at his Bedminster golf club. That’s in New Jersey. That means these documents did not stay locked up in Mar-a-Lago, which would have been insecure enough. He traveled with them, too! He brought them around! Specifically to show people apparently! And he allegedly told that person “that he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close.”
It really feels like in these cases he was just showing off. Whether he showed them to anyone for more lucrative, and indeed more sinister purposes we may never know. Nor can we know who was able to get hold of them during all this time they were just out there.
The other evidence of his guilt is, of course, the obstruction. The indictment reveals that one or more of Trump’s lawyers came clean, revealing to the government that he attempted to get them to lie to the feds about the documents, saying:
“What happens if we just don’t respond at all or don’t play ball with them?”
“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
“Isn’t it better if there are no documents?”
Wink wink. He also implied, per his attorney, that it would be great if one of his lawyers jumped on the grenade for him like Hillary Clinton‘s lawyer did with her missing email server. He was quoted as saying:
“You know what? He said, he said that it — that it was him. That he was the one who deleted all of her emails, the 30,000 emails, because they basically dealt with her scheduling and her going to the gym and her having beauty appointments. And he was great. And he, so she didn’t get into any trouble because he said that he was the one who deleted them.”
Trump allegedly reminded his lawyers of that story multiple times that day. Hint hint.
Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, is also facing obstruction charges for his alleged role in helping Trump to hide the docs. When the National Archives came looking for the documents, one of Trump’s lawyers said he tried to get all of it back to them. But Trump allegedly ordered Nauta to bring him the boxes from storage to look through and decide which he was going to return. Of the 64 boxes Nauta brought him, Trump allegedly only put back 30 for the lawyer to go through and give back. And of course we know he kept over a hundred documents for himself, which the FBI found in that raid last year.
That alone was proof he had them. But there’s so much more to show he knew he wasn’t supposed to — and that he lied and led a coverup to keep them anyway.
Special Counsel’s First Words
In his first public statement throughout this entire investigation, special counsel Jack Smith said Friday about the indictment, which was signed off on by a grand jury of Florida citizens:
“I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged. Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.”
He also added importantly:
“We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”
You can see the full brief statement (below):
What will actually come of all this? We’ve seen Trump skate away again and again. When the charity, the Trump Foundation was found to be crooked, he just had to shut it down. When his business, the Trump Organization, was found guilty of fraud, its founder and namesake served not one day of prison time.
So what will happen here?
This is no small feat, but the charges Trump faces here are the most serious legal entanglement Trump has ever faced. Just one count of willful retention of national defense information carries a potential 10 years in prison. The obstruction charges have a maximum of 20! It’s highly unlikely he’d get the maximum here, but people go to prison for this all the time, even when they plead guilty. If Trump fights this and pleads not guilty — which y’all know he will — he faces a possible 300+ years behind bars!
OK, obviously that’s not going to happen, but that’s how serious this is. Not months, not years… decades in prison for this.
The indictment actually does mention the trial, estimating it would take between 21 and 60 days. That’s surprising because, of course, this is sure to be a difficult one. It’s not like there’s anyone in the country who could serve on a jury that doesn’t have an opinion one way or the other on DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. We thought it was nonsense when people said they were undecided in 2016, if you don’t have an opinion now, we mean… HOW??
Not to mention the fact you have to explain how bad a breach of security this is without actually showing the jury the documents — since they’re classified, etc. But they had us at potential vulnerabilities of the United States.
What do YOU think of these charges now that you’ve seen the indictment??
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