But Trump is not done with the age-old strategy of delaying, distorting and trying to tie up the legal system, which has often succeeded, throughout his life in business and politics, in deferring or preventing accountability. .
In a dizzying pivot, Trump’s legal team effectively argued that no one should be shocked that he had classified documents in his home — he was once president, after all.
“Put simply, the idea that presidential records would contain sensitive information should never have been alarming,” the filing said.
Trump’s approach immediately gives his supporters in the GOP and conservative media fresh material to cover their tracks, twist the case against him, and accuse the DOJ and FBI of political motives.
But he failed to address the fundamental issues that swirled around him in the documents case. These include: why did a former president need equipment, some with the highest classification designations in the intelligence community? And why has he kept equipment that could potentially harm national security and endanger U.S. agents overseas in insecure locations in his busy resort town?
Still, Trump’s filing on Wednesday, in support of his call for the appointment of an independent official known as a special master to determine whether the FBI took legally privileged documents from his home, could still work for him. short term. If a judge agrees with his broad definition of the role, Trump could throw a stick in the shelves of the investigation. He might be able to launch legal challenges rooted in claims of legal and executive privilege that might be frivolous but take time to work their way through the system. And he could challenge the Presidential Records Act through various exhaustive levels of the legal system. A hearing on Trump’s request is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Thursday.
If he can push the probe to 2023 and possibly beyond, it could clash with the presidential campaign and help Trump frame the episode as a politicized effort by the Biden administration to thwart his comeback. to the White House. And it could once again frustrate desperate political opponents to see him quickly pay the price for his refusal to observe presidential standards and constant challenges to the rule of law.
This is one of the reasons the DOJ has urged the judge to provide any special master he appoints with extremely limited operating guidelines.
By itself, a special master is not an unreasonable request in such a case, legal experts say, although the curiosity here is that Trump waited until the government had documents he took from Mar-a-Lago. for two weeks to do so.
“If the government’s case is what they think it is, let’s play it straight, let a special master come in,” David Schoen, Trump’s attorney in his second impeachment trial, said on the show on Thursday. CNN’s New Day.
“But why not let that process wear itself out? Because part of this whole storyline has to be — satisfying the public that there’s been a full and fair release of everything, that all concerns have been addressed.”
How Trump continues to sabotage his own defense
At the same time, however, Wednesday’s filing also threatened to backfire as he appeared to admit to the transgression Trump is accused of – keeping classified information in his home. This could be another self-inflicted legal blow. Much like the revelations from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, the longer the process drags on, the more damning it seems to Trump.
While the ex-president has succeeded in politicizing the investigation and uniting much of the GOP behind him, his maneuvers so far have often only revealed more and more damning evidence about his own conduct.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, seems to constantly outwit Trump’s politicized and emotional defenses, which usually fail to address substantive legal issues.
What is striking about this is that Americans would never have had this level of understanding of the case without Trump himself.
“The response the Justice Department gave was perfectly appropriate,” conservative attorney George Conway told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Wednesday. “The Trump people just asked to be punched in the face and they were punched in the face by the response,” Conway said.
Dave Aronberg, the district attorney for Palm Beach County, Fla., where Mar-a-Lago is located, agreed that Trump’s request for a special petty officer only made his position worse.
“This is another self-inflicted wound by Trump’s legal team. (The special main motion) opened the doors for the DOJ to respond with a 36-page missile right through the heart of the Trump Tower,” said Aronberg, a Democrat. CNN’s “Crisis Room”.
“You have this response that decimates Trump claims his team has been fully cooperative the whole time. In fact, it exposes a case of obstruction.”
It was not the first time that Trump appeared to sabotage his own position.
Earlier in August, Attorney General Merrick Garland requested the release of a search warrant saying classified documents were seized from his home three weeks ago. That revelation, which undermined Trump’s criticism of the search and revealed the FBI had reason to believe classified information was on the property, only came after Trump himself announced the search, then unleashed a storm of misinformation and threats against the office.
Like many of Trump’s legal documents, Wednesday night’s document seemed as much designed to address a political audience — and stoke his campaign of fury against the Justice Department — as to ease his legal conundrum.
Trump’s calculation for 2024 gets complicated
The fallout from the FBI’s raid on Trump’s property has pushed the former president back into the headlines in a way that Republicans keen to focus on inflation and Biden’s low mid-election approval ratings -mandate are not welcome.
It has also raised questions about the impact of the legal pressure on him on his likely 2024 presidential campaign.
CNN’s Orr and Holmes reported that after months of considering Labor Day weekend as a target launch date for his 2024 campaign, he’s spent the past few weeks moving away from that timeline.
An onslaught of political concerns — raised by the possibility that some of his hand-picked candidates will underperform midterm — and his mounting legal worries are making Trump nervous about jumping into the race prematurely, according to nine alumni. and current Trump aides and allies who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters.
“Everyone was assuming that shortly after Labor Day would be the best possible time to launch, but that changed and he was told to take care of FBI business first,” an adviser said. of Trump.