Trump’s Latest Mar-a-Lago Gambit Just Backfired Spectacularly - DMT NEWS

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Trump’s Latest Mar-a-Lago Gambit Just Backfired Spectacularly

Former President Donald Trump’s latest courtroom maneuver aimed to deflect the spiraling national security probe that could eventually put him in prison. But the move did not go down, to put it mildly, as Trump might have hoped. 

Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, the Department of Justice unleashed a blistering response that detailed, with stark clarity, the painstaking attempts federal officials made to retrieve the sensitive government documents Trump took with him to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach after he left the White House in January 2021. 

The DOJ filing opened up new vistas of trouble for Trump and his legal team and undercut Trump’s public assertions about events leading up to the FBI search of his property earlier this month. The feds alleged that important documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage space, and that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” 

The searing 36-page government response suggests Trump’s team invited trouble when they asked a Florida judge to freeze the government’s review of documents seized by the FBI in a filing last week, and for the appointment of an independent lawyer, known as a “special master,” to review the files.

“In boxing, they call this ‘leading with your chin,’” said Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia with experience in national security investigations. “The request for a special master by Trump is a classic example. The Justice prosecutors were given the green light to flood the record with evidence that they would otherwise have kept sealed for many months. Trump has given the DOJ a gift: the power to reveal incriminating evidence of a very damaging nature.” 

The FBI is probing possible criminal violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of an investigation, and their latest brief details just how much damning evidence they’ve already obtained, lawyers said. 

“The case is strong,” Ryan Goodman, an NYU law school professor, former Department of Defense special counsel, and co-editor-in-chief of the Just Security national security forum, told VICE News. “The Justice Department has an extraordinary amount of evidence covering Trump and his associates’ course of conduct in handling the documents over a long span of time.” 

Goodman added: “If this were anyone else, I’d expect an indictment to be following very soon.” 

Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor and member of the Mueller investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, tweeted, “You don’t make a filing this strong, bold, and factually accusatory if you don’t have every intention to indict.”

The feds even threw in a photograph of classified documents, with telltale covers, spread out across the carpet of the “45 Office” in Mar-a-Lago. Agents found the files in a container and apparently put them on the floor themselves to photograph the evidence.

In its court filing, the Department of Justice threw in a photo of documents seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Photo by DOJ
In its court filing, the Department of Justice threw in a photo of documents seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Photo by DOJ

“Notice the candy-striped documents,” Robert Deitz, who served as general counsel to the National Security Agency under former President George W. Bush, told VICE News. “Do you see how hard it would be to claim that you did not notice that you had these documents in your boxes?”

The new brief undercut multiple assertions about the Mar-a-Lago search made by Trump and his team, including the assertion that the Department of Justice had been allowed access to Mar-a-Lago this summer, and told Trump everything looked fine. 

In reality, the DOJ said its representative was barred by a Trump lawyer from looking inside boxes held in the club storage space to see whether they contained classified material. 

Trump’s representatives submitted a sworn statement in June indicating that a “diligent search” had been undertaken in Mar-a-Lago for classified documents in response to a grand jury subpoena. Trump’s team handed over 38 classified documents that day, after an initial delivery of 184 classified documents in January. 

But the FBI search in August found over 100 additional classified documents, “including information classified at the highest levels,” DOJ lawyers wrote. 

“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” the document said.

Agents began to doubt that Trump’s representatives had been forthright about turning over all the documents, as well as their assertion that all remaining White House files were being carefully held in the storage space. 

The search that followed turned up documents in both the storage space and also in Trump’s office, including “a desk drawer that contained classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents.”

The information they found was so sensitive that, according to the filing, “in some instances, even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.”

Trump fired back on Wednesday morning on his Truth Social account, arguing that he declassified the documents before taking them to Mar-a-Lago. 

“Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see,” Trump wrote. “Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!”

Trump and his allies have claimed that the former president issued a “standing order” to declassify all documents removed from the Oval Office to the White House residence. But over a dozen former top Trump aides have said the claim appears to be patently false. 

“Nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given,” John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff, told CNN

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via https://www.DMT.NEWS

Greg Walters, Khareem Sudlow