Is Donald Trump heading to jail or not? Partisan warrior Stephen Collinson has a new piece with CNN titled ‘New glimpse into documents case suggests a fateful new reckoning is looming over Trump.’
The piece proposes that the Justice Department’s probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents could be approaching a “grave political moment.”
“An exclusive CNN report that appears to point to a core weakness in Trump’s case is reinforcing the possibility that the 2024 presidential contender is in a heap of legal trouble,” Collinson wrote.
Donald Trump Needs To Worry or Not?
It’s hard to take a CNN report indicating Trump might be in legitimate legal trouble seriously. The shame of it is that Trump may well be in legitimate legal trouble. Maybe CNN hits the nail on the head and Trump is cooked. Personally, I don’t doubt that Trump is corrupt.
But CNN and Collinson and MSNBC and the whole crew have been saying this stuff for years – that Donald Trump is on the verge of being indicted or incarcerated or run out of town for his sins.
Here’s the heart of Collinson’s point:
“Possible evidence that Trump knew that his claims that he could simply declassify material on a whim were false highlight his characteristic belief that laws and codes of presidential behavior do not apply to him. This is a factor that made his White House term a daily test of America’s democracy and legal system and may become even more acute if he wins the 2024 election.”
Donald Trump and Classified Documents
Trump is under investigation for potentially mishandling classified documents. DOJ special counsel Jack Smith is leading the investigation, which stems from the FBI’s recovery of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Now, as CNN is reporting, the National Archives might hand over documents to Smith “that show Trump knew the correct procedure for declassifying such material.” According to Collinson, “This could be significant because it gets to the question of whether Trump had criminal intent.”
Well, if we establish that Trump knew the correct procedure for declassifying classified documents, we will still need to establish that Trump understood that the procedures applied to the documents in question.
So, simply establishing that Trump understood declassification procedures does not automatically establish criminal intent.
The Significance of Classified Documents
Collinson writes that “there is nothing more sacred than protecting the country’s secrets.” Nothing more important? That’s pretty dramatic. And aren’t journalists like Collinson supposed to be exposing the country’s secrets?
Regardless, I wonder if Collinson felt that nothing was more important than protecting the country’s secrets when Hillary Clinton was embroiled in her email scandal; I wonder if Collinson felt that way a few months ago when Biden was discovered with classified documents in his old office.
I agree with Collinson that material with the potential to harm allies should be protected. But what Collinson misses is that a lot of the information that is classified probably doesn’t need to be classified. A lot of the procedures and the red tape is just pure bureaucracy.
I don’t lose much sleep over Trump’s mishandling of sensitive documents – mostly because I’m not convinced there was nefarious intent. Was Trump potentially operating in a way that was intentionally devious?
Of course. Maybe he was trying to obscure something or disseminate something – anything is within the realm of possibility and I’m curious to see what special counsel Jack Smith comes up with.
But I’m not ready to run Donald Trump out of the country based on the fact that he had a stack of papers in his home that he wasn’t supposed to have.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.