The grand jury indictment against former president and 2024 contender Donald Trump hasn’t even been unsealed yet. But the corporate press has already moved on, redirecting the public’s focus to the other pending investigations — a subtle acknowledgment that the forthcoming charges by the Manhattan district attorney will be both weak and properly perceived as political persecution. But the Fulton County, Georgia investigation and Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probes of Trump are equally weak.
Later today, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will unseal the indictment returned last week by a grand jury against Trump. Selective leaks suggest the former president will be charged with more than 30 criminal counts of business fraud related to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels.
Since news of the indictment first broke last week, legal pundits have called out Bragg, who ran for prosecutor on a “tough on Trump” platform, for pushing the questionable criminal case against the former president. With all but the hard left and the intransient Never-Trump right viewing the indictment as the political targeting of the former president, the press quickly pivoted to the other still-pending investigations, leaning into the Fulton County D.A.’s investigation and special counsel probes as the real crimes of concern.
While it seems likely Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis, a Democrat, will soon follow Bragg’s lead and indict Trump on state law grounds, that move will only make the targeting of Trump look more political — and pathetic. The media rounds by forewoman Emily Kohrs following the release of portions of the special purpose grand jury report guarantee that result.
Not only did Kohrs come off as unserious, at best, but her public statements confirmed Willis’ criminal targeting of Trump rests on the false premise that Trump had asked the Georgia secretary of state to find him 11,780 votes. Trump, however, did no such thing. The transcript of his call with Brad Raffensperger confirms that fact, no matter how much the corrupt press and prosecutor repeat the lie.
Special Counsel Jack Smith is handling the other two investigations into the former president, one concerning Trump’s conduct related to Jan. 6, 2021, and the second probe focusing on the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.
Smith will be hard-pressed to concoct a crime Trump committed related to Jan. 6, with the former president’s speech constitutionally protected and his legal theories, even if flawed, insufficient to create criminal liability.
The investigation into Trump’s retention of presidential documents faces problems as well, first because two of the three supposed crimes relied on by the government in the search warrant application crumble upon reflection.
For instance, in obtaining the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, the Department of Justice relied on the Espionage Act. But, significantly, the Espionage Act does not prohibit the retention of classified documents. Rather, it prohibits the “unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over” national defense information. To establish a crime, the special counsel would also need to establish Trump had reason to believe the information illegally possessed would harm the United States or help an adversary.
Not only would it be difficult for the special counsel to establish that fact, but here, given Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, indicting Trump for violating the Espionage Act would only confirm the political targeting of the Republican, unless Biden were also indicted.
The search warrant application also suggested a potential violation of Section 2017 of the criminal code, which criminalizes the removal, destruction, or concealing of government records. Section 2017, however, seeks to protect the government’s access to its own records, and merely possessing a copy of a government record is insufficient to create criminal liability.
As I wrote in August, “Yet from the search warrant affidavit and the search warrant, it appears the government sought to recover from Trump hard copies of information it already had within its possession, either through various agencies or the electronic copies maintained by the relevant authorities.” Trump is unlikely, then, to face any liability under Section 2017 either — again, the Biden snafu would make charging Trump, but not Biden, proof of political persecution.
What remains, then, is the obstruction of justice accusation. Here the legacy press thinks it has a winner, as demonstrated by The Washington Post’s article on Sunday claiming the special counsel’s office has “amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction by former president Donald Trump,” concerning the investigation into the documents seized by the FBI at Trump’s home.
Then, based on unnamed sources, the Post suggests Smith’s team has gathered extensive evidence that could be used to indict Trump for obstruction of justice. The Post takes care to stress that the special counsel’s “emphasis on obstruction marks a key distinction so far between the Mar-a-Lago investigation and a separate Justice Department probe into how a much smaller number of classified documents ended up in an insecure office of President Biden’s, as well as his Delaware home.”
Until Smith’s investigation concludes, it will be impossible to know whether evidence exists that Trump obstructed justice. But the Biden case, rather than distinguishing the Mar-a-Lago situation, actually illustrates the ease with which documents marked classified could be overlooked in a review of documents. Just as Trump’s attorneys missed some classified documents in their search for materials with the markings, so too did Biden’s attorneys.
If that is all the special counsel’s office has against Trump, it will be just as weak as the other cases. More importantly, by that point, the American public will have witnessed the clear witch hunts against the former president, first in Manhattan and then in Georgia. Those criminal cases followed years of the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax and others, while Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s mishandling of documents went ignored.
So, no, the other investigations into the former president are no more serious than the Manhattan D.A’s targeting of Trump, but the corrupt press’s effort to focus our attention away from Bragg’s case tells us they know just how weak that case against Trump is.