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Donald Trump’s Legal Nightmare Begins

By Gage Skidmore: Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.
By Gage Skidmore: Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.

Amid the news that a small number of classified documents were found at a think tank formerly operated by President Joe Biden, there are also indications that a different documents investigation, the one into Biden’s predecessor, is ramping up. Yes, that means Donald Trump. 

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Is Donald Trump in Trouble?

According to The Guardian, the Justice Department is “intensifying its investigation of Donald Trump’s unauthorized retention of national security materials as it prepares to question the people who searched the former president’s properties at the end of last year and found more documents with classified markings.” 

DOJ was told certain things about who conducted the search, but the DOJ, per the newspaper, is “unsatisfied with that accounting.” 

These moves, per the Guardian, “signals an aggressive posture” from Special Counsel Jack Smith. 

Meanwhile, CNN reported Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney at the time of the 2020 election, has been subpoenaed by the Special Counsel’s office, in connection with “an investigation into the former president’s fundraising following the 2020 election.” 

The subpoena went out in December but wasn’t made public until this week. 

Per CNN, the subpoenas are part of the side of Smith’s investigation looking into January 6 and other efforts by the Trump team to overturn the 2020 election. CNN states that the subpoenas to Giuliani and others “demonstrate prosecutors’ growing interest in following the money after the 2020 election as part of their sweeping criminal probe around Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss of the presidency.”

A Vanity Fair report positioned the moves as the DOJ’s special counsel “zeroing in on Trump’s inner circle.” 

What About Joe Biden? 

As for Biden’s own documents investigation, more detail has emerged into what was found. 

Per CNN, there are about ten documents in total, from between 2013 and 2016, and they are described as “US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter.” 

John Lausch Jr., the US attorney in Chicago, a Trump appointee who has remained in office, has been assigned to look into the documents issue. The probe is not a full-on criminal investigation. 

The documents were discovered when lawyers for the president were packing up an office used in Washington for the Penn Biden Center, a think tank established after the end of Biden’s time as vice president. They volunteered the discovery to the National Archives and handed the documents over voluntarily. 

Biden, asked about the documents for the first time Tuesday, said that he didn’t know the documents were in that office. 

“I was surprised to learn there were any government records that were taken there to that office,” he said, per CNN

A New York Times analysis laid out the many ways that the Biden and Trump documents investigations are different. 

“There are key gaps in the public record about both, but the available information suggests there were significant differences in how the documents came to light, their volume and — most important — how Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden responded,” the Times said. “Mr. Trump and his aides resisted the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them all, while Mr. Biden’s lawyers reported the problem and the White House says it has fully cooperated. These apparent differences have consequential legal implications.” 

In addition, the Trump investigation concerns a much larger volume of documents, and the Trump situation included months of back-and-forth, eventually culminating in the seizure of documents. Biden, unlike Trump, has not claimed that he declassified all documents in advance, and while it has been reported that Trump destroyed some documents, there are no allegations that Biden has. 

“Mr. Trump and his aides for months delayed responding to the National Archives’ repeated requests, then failed to fully comply with the subpoena while falsely saying they had. A court filing also suggested that security camera footage shows that ‘government records were likely concealed and removed’ from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago after the subpoena,” the newspaper said. 

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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