In an event unprecedented in American history, a former U.S. president, protected by U.S. Secret Service agents, and currently running for president, was booked on federal criminal charges Tuesday by U.S. Marshals at the U.S. federal courthouse in Miami, before being taken to be fingerprinted and processed.
Donald Trump pled ‘not guilty’ to all charges.
The charges relate to Trump taking a lot of highly classified documents from the White House after he left office. And once discovered, he gave multiple bizarre reasons for having them.
According to the indictment, the highly sensitive materials Trump kept included documents about overseas nuclear weapons holdings and various military plans.
But they are really all about the fact that he refused to turn many of them over for upwards of 18 months. And I have criticized Trump for doing that.
So, did Hillary Clinton get treated differently? Of course! And is Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) out to get Trump?
Absolutely! That’s a given.
But Trump could still have avoided all this had he behaved differently, before and after he got caught. And that’s important too.
As with Richard Nixon and Watergate, it was about the cover up.
The 37 charges against Trump include violations of the Espionage Act or the willful retention of national security information as well as one count of “conspiracy to obstruct justice,” one count of “withholding a document or record,” one count of “corruptly concealing a document or record,” one count of “concealing a document in a deferral investigation,” one count of “scheme to conceal” and one count of “false statements and representations.”
Based on the evidence represented in the indictment, and from his own words and deeds, it seems that he did do most of the things he is accused of, despite the Team Trump calls that this is only a political prosecution.
I have said before that Trump basically dared the Justice Department to come after him. And I still believe that had Trump simply turned over all the classified materials when they were first requested, this would have likely ended last year without any criminal proceedings.
But Trump didn’t.
The FBI then conducted a very showy surprise raid on the ex-president’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, on August 8, 2022. That raid, and the documents recovered there, eventually led to the 37-count indictment that now put Trump where he is.
THE FBI RAID ON MAR-A-LAGO
Many condemned the FBI raid that launched all this as unprecedented and wrong, including me. I argued that it sent a horrible message to the world and looked highly political. (As does the indictment, arrest, and potential trial).
Apparently, the FBI had doubts about the raid as well.
Steven D’Antuono, who left the FBI late last year, explained the FBI-DOJ disagreements over the planning and execution of the Mar-a-Lago search during an interview last week with the House Judiciary Committee.
While he called the back-and-forth between DOJ and the FBI “an everyday discussion,” he noted that it still created “consternation” among the law enforcement officials, reported Politico.
According to the interview transcripts reviewed by Politico, D’Antuono said DOJ wanted the FBI to quickly seize the classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, claiming they could fall into the wrong hands. But the FBI’s Washington Field Office team preferred to seek Trump’s permission, through his attorneys, to search the premises.
The FBI even proposed a plan to surveil Mar-a-Lago in case Trump’s team tried taking any of the disputed papers offsite, according to D’Antuono.
The FBI “had a plan in place to have surveillance around if we needed to,” he said.
“Again, no one was there. So, if they brought in — they – meaning the [former] president’s, you know, people — brought in a big box truck, we would see it, right, and we would have the search warrant in hand and be able to act at that point.”
In the end, DOJ got its way, and they conducted the surprise raid. Fortunately, Trump wasn’t there when it occurred. And that was at least something.
“I didn’t want the spectacle for obvious reasons of why we’re sitting here today. … It’s a reputational risk, right, and that’s the way I looked at it from the Bureau,” reported Politico.
Unfortunately, the FBI has still suffered a great deal of reputational risk, as has the DOJ under Biden. This all stinks as political.
But Trump has played a big part in all this as well.
Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.