ANALYSIS – Former President Donald Trump faces a slew of legal onslaughts, the latest being a federal indictment by Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) for violating the Espionage Act by mishandling classified information.
Like the FBI raid on his Florida home, this divisive and politically charged indictment is an unprecedented development that makes him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal government.
And the political fallout will be huge.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and is calling the indictments a witch hunt. And yes, he has been unfairly targeted before – many times.
But is this case really part of that same anti-Trump vendetta? And does it matter?
The latest indictment is for the willful retention of highly classified national security documents at his Florida Mar-a-Lago estate, corruptly concealing documents, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements.
Many will point to the later discovery of classified documents in Joe Biden’s homes and properties connected to him without him facing criminal charges (yet) as proof that this is an anti-Trump witch hunt.
Last week, the DOJ also cleared former Vice President Mike Pence of any wrongdoing after a small number of classified documents were found at his Indiana home in January.
Trump posted a slew of angry social media posts against federal investigators Tuesday highlighting different treatment.
“The Marxists and Fascists in the DOJ & FBI are going after me at a level and speed never seen before in our Country, and I did nothing wrong,” Trump wrote in one of several posts.
And yes, as I have repeatedly written about, the DOJ and the FBI have been heavily politicized, or even weaponized against conservatives.
But, as with Richard Nixon and Watergate, the problem for Trump here is the cover-up. Had he simply returned the documents once they were discovered, it would have been far less likely he would have been indicted.
Instead, Trump repeatedly refused to turn over the materials to federal officials once he left the White House, and then provided a series of bizarre justifications for his actions, before the FBI raided his home.
A separate special counsel is investigating Biden’s handling of classified material after documents were found at his Wilmington, Del., home and a Washington, D.C., office from his time as vice president.
The difference here is Biden’s team alerted federal officials upon discovering the documents and promptly turned them over.
Trump’s own former Attorney General Bill Barr pushed back on Trump’s claims that a special counsel’s ongoing documents probe is politically motivated.
As reported by The Hill:
“Over time, people will see that this is not a case of the Department of Justice conducting a witch hunt,” Barr said in an interview on CBS on Tuesday. “In fact, they approached this very delicately and with deference to the president, and this would have gone nowhere had the president just returned the documents. But he jerked them around for a year and a half.”
The indictment carries serious legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if he’s convicted. Trump will appear at a federal courthouse in Miami on June 13.
In March, the notoriously liberal, Soros-backed Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicted Trump on state charges related to hush-money payments to a former porn film star in 2016.
That local indictment appears far more political and ‘Trumped-up’ (pun not intended) than this federal one. The trial for this case begins in March 2024.
Jack Smith, the special counsel coordinating federal investigations into the Espionage Act indictments, oversees other inquiries related to Trump, including those regarding the Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021.
But none of this will prevent Trump from continuing his campaign for president. “Nothing stops Trump from running while indicted, or even convicted,” University of California, Los Angeles law professor Richard Hasen told CNN.
The Constitution requires only three things of candidates. They must be a natural-born citizen (not a naturalized one), at least 35 years old, and residents of the U.S. for at least 14 years.
So theoretically, Trump could be convicted and still be elected President.
Not only won’t this keep Trump from running, but it will probably help him with his core base of supporters in the GOP primary.
And Trump won’t even go to trial for any of this until well into the next presidential term.
But the optics and politics of all this is the biggest issue.
As the Daily Caller reported Pence as saying: “I think this is going to be terribly divisive for the country. I also think it sends a terrible message to the wider world that looks at America as a standard of not only democracy, but of justice.”
The question is when does all of this come to a head? And what will happen when it does?
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.