In a sign that Donald Trump’s legal team is getting increasingly worried about possible indictments for the former president concerning his alleged mishandling of classified documents, the attorneys visited the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on June 5.
The three lawyers reportedly requested the DOJ to refrain from bringing charges against Donald Trump for keeping secret classified documents that belong to the National Archives.
The three lawyers – Lindsey Halligan, John Rowley, and James Trusty – were seen walking into and out of the building in silence without addressing the media, in a sign that they may be resigned to the possibility that the former president will be charged in the classified document case.
The attorneys had discussed the case with special counsel Jack Smith and prosecutors for about two hours.
Donald Trump Claims Innocence
Meanwhile, Donald Trump took to Truth Social, his social media app, and maintained his innocence. “How can DOJ charge me, who did nothing wrong,” Trump posted. “The greatest witch hunt of all time!”
In a majority of cases, such a meeting with prosecutors at the federal level often means that indictments are forthcoming. This would potentially be the second wave of indictments after Trump has already been formally charged with 34 counts of felonies for falsifying business records in a hush-money scheme with an adult video star to silence her from publicly discussing an extramarital affair in 2016.
Trump’s Lawyers Called for a Meeting with the Attorney General
This is not the first time that Trump’s lawyers tried to gather information about what Trump is facing on the classified document’s front. Last month they sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for an in-person meeting with the head of the DOJ. Garland picked Smith to be the lead on the classified documents case against Trump.
Former Vice President Mike Pence had also retained secret papers in his home, but he admitted his mistake and cooperated with investigators after classified materials were discovered. The DOJ has decided not to charge Pence and dropped the investigation.
Trump called for exoneration in his case too. I’m “at least as innocent” as Pence, the former president declared on June 3.
His lawyers will likely say that Trump declassified the documents before he retained them and that a commander-in-chief is an ultimate decider on what is classified and what is not. The legal team is also likely to defend the former president because the secret papers were found mixed in with other keepsakes such as magazine and newspaper articles, gifts, and clothes. They could then claim the retention of the classified documents was accidental.
Is He Guilty or Innocent?
Lately, that version of the defense strategy could be undercut by a recording obtained by the prosecutors that reportedly depicted Donald Trump discussing a classified military memo at a meeting at his home in Mar-a-Lago. Observers think that during this meeting, Trump admitted that the paper he was holding was classified.
Another Court Case to Distract from Trump’s Election Bid
It is difficult to predict how potential indictments for the classified documents activity will hurt Trump politically. Donald Trump supporters will likely point to secret papers that were also found in President Joe Biden’s possession at one of his homes in Delaware, although Biden is widely believed to be more cooperative than Trump with investigators. Like Pence, the president may not be charged.
Nevertheless, Donald Trump will continue to claim that he is being politically persecuted by the weaponization of the DOJ and FBI, whose employees have a vendetta against him. His arrest and subsequent criminal trial would distract him from his campaign. In the hush money case, he is scheduled to appear in court in March 2024 during the height of the Republican primaries. One more criminal trial could take him out of action again and allow Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other candidates to forge ahead in the race.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.