The Classified Documents That Haunt Trump – Former President Donald J. Trump is running for reelection in the 2024 Presidential Election.
Naturally, that’s not the only big deal occurring in Trump’s life. At least four separate legal probes are dogging him.
Trump is now the first presidential candidate to have been indicted (a George Soros-affiliated Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicted Trump on charges of paying hush money to the pornographic actress, Stormy Daniels, in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election).
Recently, the former president was also found by a New York jury to have been liable for defamation against the journalist, E. Jean Carroll, as well as being guilty of sexual assault (technically, battery).
Trump will likely be indicted by an Atlanta grand jury investigating claims that he attempted to steal the 2020 election in Georgia.
But that might not be the biggest problem Donald Trump is facing…
The Most Serious Case
According to Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, the case that should most worry Trump is the ongoing Washington, D.C. grand jury investigation into accusations that he had misappropriated and, later, mishandled classified documents as he was departing the White House after his failed reelection bid in 2020.
He thinks that indictments could come down from Jack Smith, the attorney who was appointed to be the special counsel leading the investigation, as soon as this summer.
For their part, sources inside the Trump Campaign have stated that they are most concerned about the case of the classified document because Trump himself has made incriminating comments about the matter in public.
What’s more, an obstruction of justice charge as well as potential violations of the Espionage Act are serious legal matters that Trump will have to contend with.
Although, the Trump team appears poised to withstand whatever political fallout may occur from the potential indictment. After all, the issue of handling classified documents may be important to power elites in Washington, D.C. (though they seem to ignore when Joe Biden breaks these supposedly sacrosanct rules), it is not very important to the ordinary American voter.
Nevertheless, the legal risk to Donald Trump is great. And that fact, combined with the multitude of other legal cases currently arrayed against Trump—which will play out during the election—could lead to the Republican Party’s defeat, if Trump is, in fact, their nominee in 2024.
As I have said repeatedly, independent voters dislike Trump by an average of 14 points. And these voters are already turned off by Trump’s legal problems. The longer and more serious those legal troubles get for Trump, the less inclined to support Trump these moderate voters will be.
Trump’s base, sadly, is insufficient for him to win the general election. So, winning the independents is essential for Trump.
A Silly Scandal Made Serious
This scandal is so incredibly stupid. Especially Joe Biden is accused of even more egregious mishandling of classified documents. It’s obvious that the Democrats and Trump’s other political rivals are using this as a cudgel to weaken him going into 2024.
Still, just as with the other cases dogging the forty-fifth president, Trump did expose himself to these actions.
While presidents do have the authority to take documents with them when they leave office, there is a significant amount of bureaucracy they must pass through to get those documents and to hang onto them. Trump claims that, with the proverbial flick of his presidential wrist, he declassified all documents in question. He claims to have believed that that was his authority as president.
Unfortunately for Trump, new evidence has supposedly come to light from the National Archives and Records Administration, the organization in charge of overseeing the dissemination of presidential records to outgoing presidents, proving that both Trump and his top advisers understood the correct declassification process.
Yet, former President Trump and his advisers chose to ignore those procedures.
Donald Trump Can’t Help Himself
For the last year, Trump and his team have insisted that they believed the president could declassify anything he wanted. And there are historical examples of presidents in the modern era declassifying things by accident or without following proper protocols, and never being held accountable for them.
The issue for Trump is, though, there were written guidelines governing the declassification process while he was president. He and his team apparently knew this. Rather than simply following proper procedure, they chose to do what they wanted to.
The existence of the correspondence between representatives from the National Archives and former President Trump’s top advisers outlining the specific methods and procedures they had to follow to get documents declassified blows a hole in Trump’s ongoing defense.
Whatever he may claim in public, there exists documentary evidence that he understood he, as president, could not simply leave government with tranches of classified documents.
Because of this evidence, an indictment is likely coming down the pike. Trump will have to defend himself from these accusations. It’s not a lost cause for him. But the existence of that correspondence between the National Archives and his advisers is hugely damaging to his legal defense.
If Trump cannot prove that he legitimately believed he could declassify documents and essentially store them wherever he wanted to, he’s just opened himself up big-time to violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice charges.
At that point, the only hope Trump would have to avoiding the punishments associated with these criminal charges would be for him to win the election and quickly pardon himself from any federal charges lobbed against him.
We can continue complaining about the ongoing witch hunt chasing down Trump. Since the Russia collusion myth, he has been unfairly targeted. But not everything he’s being targeted for is fabricated. And again, there are so many headaches he’s being made to endure that were the result of his own big mouth and tendency toward excess as a personality trait (defect, really).
This isn’t a question of being a fighter who will “own the Libs.” This is a matter of focus.
Can a man who is fighting to save himself from peril, much of made worse by his own behavior in public, and serve the interests of the American people?
I’ll leave that for the you, the voters to decide. I can tell you that I have my doubts as to his ability to govern with all these problems hanging over his head.
Donald Trump has become damaged goods. Surely, the Grand Old Party can produce a better, more viable candidate who will be as dynamic as Trump without all the unnecessary baggage.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.