Posts tagged with "Special Counsel Jack smith"

Special Counsel blasts judge’s jury instruction request in Trump documents case

April  4, 2024

In perhaps prosecutors’ strongest rebuke yet to how Judge Aileen Cannon has handled the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, Special Counsel Jack Smith said in court filings late on Tuesday evening, April 2, that the judge had ordered briefings based on a “fundamentally flawed” understanding of the case that has “no basis in law or fact,” reports CNN.

Smith’s team harshly critiqued Cannon’s request for jury instructions, which embraced Trump’s claims that he had broad authority to take classified government documents and said it would seek an appeals court review if she accepted the former president’s arguments about his record-retention powers.

In an unusual order last month, Cannon asked attorneys on the classified documents case to submit briefs on potential jury instructions defining terms of the Espionage Act, under which Trump is charged over mishandling 32 classified records.

Specifically, Cannon asked the special counsel and defense attorneys to write two versions of proposed jury instructions:

  • The first scenario would instruct a jury to assess whether each of the records that Trump is accused of retaining fell into the categories of “personal” or “presidential” as laid out by the Presidential Records Act, a post-Watergate law that governs how White House records belonging to the government are to be handled at the end of a presidency.
  • The second version Cannon asked for assumes that, as president, Trump had complete authority to take any records he wanted from the White House, which would make it nearly impossible for prosecutors to secure a conviction. If she were to institute this sort of instruction, Smith’s team said, “the Government must be provided with an opportunity to seek prompt appellate review.”

“Both scenarios rest on an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise—namely, that the Presidential Records Act and, in particular, its distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘presidential’ records, determines whether a former President is ‘authorized,’ under the Espionage Act, to possess highly classified documents and store them in an unsecure facility,” the special counsel’s team wrote.

If allowed to be presented to a jury, prosecutors said, “that premise would distort the trial.”

Cannon’s request came days after she heard arguments over whether the Presidential Records Act granted the former president broad authority to characterize any record from his time in the White House as personal. Trump’s attorneys claim he did have that authority and have asked the judge to throw out the criminal charges.

In their own proposed jury instructions filed Tuesday evening, Trump’s defense attorneys suggested that, in the first hypothetical, Cannon tell trial jurors that Trump was “authorized” by the PRA to “possess a category of documents defined as ‘personal records,’ both during and after his term in office.”

In the second scenario, defense attorneys wrote that “there can be no appropriate jury instructions relating to factual issues … because that scenario forecloses prosecution of President Trump.”

Trump’s proposal also challenges Smith’s ability to prove the former president kept the documents “knowingly”—meaning that he was aware it was against the law.

“Medical science has not yet devised an instrument which can record what was in one’s mind in the distant past,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors have repeatedly said that the PRA is not relevant to the charges against Trump, as the conduct he is accused of happened after his term as president ended. Trump’s claim that he deemed the records personal are “pure fiction,” invented once the National Archives had retrieved boxes with classified information from Mar-a-Lago two years after he left office, they wrote Tuesday.

Their new filing sheds light on some of the evidence that investigators have collected about Trump’s record-keeping habits during his presidency.

According to the prosecutors’ account, there is no evidence that Trump designated the relevant classified records as personal when he left the White House; and the prosecutors said he got the idea that he did have such power many months later, from the leader of a conservative legal organization.

Cannon appeared skeptical that the charges should be outright dismissed during the hearing, but she said that Trump’s attorneys were making “forceful” arguments that may be appropriate to present to a trial jury.

Still, Cannon has not made an official ruling on the request to dismiss the case, and her request for hypothetical jury instructions appears to show that the judge is still considering how, or if, the PRA fits into the case at large.

Research contact: @CNN

Supreme Court’s immunity hearing leaves prospect of a pre-election January 6 trial for Trump in doubt

March 1, 2024

On Wednesday, February 28, the Supreme Court laid out a hearing schedule on former President Donald Trump’s claims of presidential immunity that raises significant doubts that the election interference case against him will go to trial before the 2024 election—a major win for Trump in his effort to stave off legal consequences for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, reports NBC News.

SCOTUS’s decision to hear oral arguments the week of April 22 about whether Trump is entitled to presidential immunity left open a startling possibility: that a former president charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress and disfranchise millions of Americans in an effort to stay in the Oval Office after having lost an election may avoid facing trial before he is given a chance to return to the White House.

Until Wednesday evening, there had been a chance that Trump’s trial in Washington, DC—based on an indictment returned in August—could go to trial as soon as May, with a likely verdict potentially handed down months before Election Day 2024.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan originally had set a trial date for March 4, saying she would give Trump’s team seven months to prepare for trial. But that timeline was delayed when the case was frozen in December following an appeal from Trump’s team. Trump had 88 days left on that preparation timeline, which meant that—had the Supreme Court simply allowed an appeals court’s decision on presidential immunity to stand—the case would have been underway in Chutkan’s courtroom as soon as early May.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in April instantaneously erased the possibility that Trump would be convicted before the Republican National Convention, which is set to take place in Milwaukee in mid-July.

Prosecutors for Special Counsel Jack Smith previously estimated that they would need “no longer than four to six weeks” to present their case, while potential jurors received letters saying the trial “may last approximately three months after jury selection is completed.”

SCOTUS could rule before the end of June, but it would depend in part on whether the nine justices are unanimous. It typically takes longer for the court to resolve cases when they are divided, with justices writing separate dissents.

Even if the court rules in June, the timeline is very tight to get the case started before Election Day.

“You’re talking about a time frame in which you’re really pushing up against the general election,” Andrew Weissmann, an MSNBC legal analyst who was on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, said Wednesday on “The Beat with Ari Melber.”

Weissmann said the Supreme Court decision left him “extremely concerned” that there wouldn’t be a verdict in the January 6 case before the general election, saying the new time frame was “a huge win” for Trump.

Neal Katyal, the former acting U.S. solicitor general, said that he was also very concerned about the timeline but that the Supreme Court could expedite things.

“The Supreme Court does hold most of the cards here,” Katyal said. “If they want to have this trial happen, they can certainly do it. They can hear the case on April 22, decide the case very quickly thereafter, and allow Judge Chutkan the ability to start her trial.”

The Supreme Court hearing will be held the week after the justices consider another case of relevance to Trump, concerning one of the hundreds of people charged with offenses relating to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Defendant Joseph Fischer is seeking to dismiss a charge accusing him of obstructing an official proceeding. Trump is charged with the same offense, and his lawyers mentioned Fischer’s case in urging the justices not to rush his case to trial.

Trump’s lawyers wrote in court papers that it “makes no sense to conduct a complex criminal trial while a case is pending in this court that might invalidate half the charges in the indictment.”

Trump pleaded not guilty to that charge, as well as the three others he faces in the election interference case.

Hours before the Supreme Court announced the April hearing, Chutkan was in her courtroom for a hearing for one of Trump’s fellow January 6 defendants—Michael Foy, who assaulted officers with a hockey stick and a sharpened metal pole on January 6.

At Foy’s sentencing hearing, his attorney discussed the role of general deterrence in determining the length of his prison sentence—arguing that a sentence for a random rioter wouldn’t have that much of a deterrent effect for the public when the presumptive Republican nominee continues to spread his lies about the 2020 election.

“I’m not getting into that,” Chutkan said with a smile, prompting laughter in the courtroom.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to end delays of Trump’s January 6 trial

February 15, 2024

On Wednesday, February 14, federal prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to delay Donald Trump’s trial for his coup attempt any further—calling a quick resolution of those criminal charges a matter of utmost importance for the country, reports The Huffington Post.

“The charged crimes strike at the heart of our democracy,” Special Counsel Jack Smith wrote in a 39-page brief filed with the court Wednesday evening. He called Trump’s actions an “effort to perpetuate himself in power and prevent the lawful winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office.

“The national interest in resolving those charges without further delay is compelling,” he wrote.

The former president on Monday asked the high court to freeze that prosecution through two more rounds of appeals—a request that, if granted, could put Trump in a position of ordering the Department of Justice to dismiss all federal cases against him, should he win back the presidency this autumn.

Trump is arguing to the Supreme Court that his riling up his followers with lies about a “stolen” election that culminated in the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to keep him in power was, in fact, an “official” act of the presidency for which he cannot be prosecuted. He also claims he cannot be prosecuted for his actions because the Senate failed to hit the two-thirds supermajority needed to convict him on that impeachment. What’s more, he argues that the Founders always intended for presidents to enjoy total immunity.

All those arguments were previously rejected by both trial Judge Tanya Chutkan as well as the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That appellate court ruled that the case would return to Chutkan for trial unless the Supreme Court granted him a delay while it considers Trump’s request.

Smith wrote in his new filing that Trump had no grounds to seek another delay at this point. “He has no entitlement to a further stay while seeking discretionary review from this court,” Smith said. “Delay in the resolution of these charges threatens to frustrate the public interest in a speedy and fair verdict―a compelling interest in every criminal case and one that has unique national importance here; as it involves federal criminal charges against a former president for alleged criminal efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, including through the use of official power.

Further, Trump had not shown any historical or legal basis for his claim that he is immune from prosecution. “A president’s alleged criminal scheme to overturn an election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power to his successor should be the last place to recognize a novel form of absolute immunity from federal criminal law.”

Trump’s lawyers have gone beyond merely asking the Supreme Court to review the case and are demanding that Trump first be allowed to appeal to the full appellate court before coming to the high court—all while the January 6 case remains on hold.

But Smith asked the court to treat Trump’s request for a delay as a request for the court to review the three-judge panel’s ruling—thereby eliminating one of the steps Trump was asking for. Smith also asked the justices to decline taking the case at all, given the appellate court’s detailed ruling; but that if did take it, to do so on an expedited basis that would produce a ruling by the end of the court’s term this summer.

“The public interest weighs heavily in favor of this court’s issuance of its decision without delay,” Smith wrote.

The January. 6 case is one of two federal prosecutions Trump could end if he becomes president again. The other is based on his refusal to turn over secret documents he took with him to his South Florida country club upon leaving the White House.

Trump also faces a Georgia state prosecution for his attempt to overturn his election loss there and a New York state indictment accusing him of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Appeals court judges are skeptical of Trump’s immunity appeal in election interference case

January 10, 2024

On Tuesday, January 9, federal appeals court judges questioned former President Donald Trump’s broad claim of immunity from prosecution for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which resulted in a chain of events that culminated in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, reports NBC News.

The all-woman three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said nothing to suggest they would embrace Trump’s immunity argument, although they raised several options on how they could rule.

The court could issue a ruling that decisively resolves the immunity question, allowing the trial to move quickly forward, or alight on a more narrow ruling that could leave some issues unresolved. They also could simply rule that Trump had no right to bring an appeal at this stage of the litigation.

Trump arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., a few minutes before oral arguments began at 9:30 a.m. and sat at his lawyers’ table. He was mostly muted during his lawyers’ presentation, but grew flustered at points when the prosecution’s lawyer was speaking. He could be seen passing notes to his lawyers on a yellow legal pad.

Special Counsel Jack Smith also was present at the hearing, which lasted for a little over an hour.

The case is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump faces as he fights on multiple legal fronts while remaining the presumptive front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

With Trump running for office again, whether the Washington trial originally scheduled for March can take place ahead of the election continues to hang in the balance. Smith has asked the court to move quickly—a bid to keep the trial on schedule.

The appeals court is hearing the case on an expedited schedule, so a ruling could come quickly, possibly in time to allow Trump’s trial to begin as scheduled.

Judge Florence Pan immediately peppered Trump’s lawyer with hypothetical situations in which, under Trump’s theory, presidents could not be prosecuted.

Could a president, she asked, be prosecuted for selling pardons or military secrets, or by ordering the assassination of a political opponent?

“I understand your position to be that a president is immune from criminal prosecution for any official act that he takes as president even if that action is taken for an unlawful or unconstitutional purpose, is that correct?” Pan said.

Trump’s lawyer, D. John Sauer responded that such a prosecution can only take place if the president is impeached and convicted by the Senate first.

The position taken by prosecutors “would authorize for example, the indictment of President Biden in the Western District of Texas after he leaves office for mismanaging the border allegedly,” Sauer added.

Judge Karen Henderson cited another part of the Constitution—a provision that outlines that the president has a duty to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.

“I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal law,” she said.

Later in the argument, Henderson expressed concern that a ruling saying the president does not have immunity would lead to politically-driven prosecutions of future presidents.

“How do we write an opinion that would stop the flood gates?’ she said.

The Justice Department has previously acknowledged that “criminal liability would be unavoidably political,” she added.

The Trump investigation “doesn’t reflect that we are going to see a sea change of vindictive tit for tat prosecutions in the future,” said James Pearce, the lawyer arguing on behalf of Smith.

“Never before have there been allegations that a sitting president has with private individuals and using the levers of power sought to fundamentally subvert the Democratic Republic and the electoral system,” he added.

Trump on Monday suggested that if the court does not rule in his favor and he wins the presidential election, he would have President Joe Biden indicted.

Whatever happens, the losing party is likely to immediately appeal to the Supreme Court. The justices would then face a decision on whether to take up the case and issue their own ruling, potentially also on a fast-tracked basis.

Trump’s appeal arises from the four-count indictment in Washington including charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan in December denied Trump’s attempt to dismiss the indictment on presidential immunity and other constitutional grounds. The case is on hold while the appeals process plays out.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Jack Smith asks Supreme Court to weigh Trump’s immunity argument

December 12, 2023

The Supreme Court said on Monday, December 11, that it would consider Special Counsel Jack Smith‘s request to rule quickly on whether presidential immunity protects former President Trump from prosecution in the federal 2020 election interference case, reports Axios.

It would be the first time that the high court would have weighed in on part of the legal proceedings involving the former president. Trump’s lawyers argue that he has presidential immunity from the charges.

“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office,” Smith wrote in the Monday filing.

Smith added that it “is of imperative public importance” for the Court to rule on Trump’s claims of immunity “and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible, if his claim of immunity is rejected.”

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to expedite consideration of Smith’s request to consider whether Trump is immune, and gave Trump’s legal team until December 20 to file a response.

Trump’s legal team last week requested a stay on all court proceedings in the 2020 election case, which is currently scheduled to go to trial on March 4.

The former president’s request for a stay came after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, rejected Trump’s arguments that he has immunity from the indictment.

A Trump spokesperson accused Smith in a statement of trying for “a Hail Mary by racing to the Supreme Court and attempting to bypass the appellate process.”

The spokesperson added, “As President Trump has said over and over again, this prosecution is completely politically motivated … President Trump will continue to fight for Justice and oppose these authoritarian tactics.”

Prosecutors in their filing cite the 1974 U.S. v. Nixon case, when the Supreme Court ruled that former President Richard Nixon was required to turn over tape recordings during the Watergate scandal, and that he was not protected by “executive privilege.”

The special counsel, in a rare move, is seeking to bypass the federal appeals court and urge the high court to rule quickly on Trump’s claims.

“Respondent’s appeal of the ruling rejecting his immunity and related claims, however, suspends the trial of the charges against him, scheduled to begin on March 4, 2024,” per the filing.

Research contact: @axios

Georgia prosecutors won’t consider plea deals for Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, or Donald Trump

November 30, 2023

 

Georgia prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s election interference racketeering case reportedly say they will not consider plea deals for co-defendants Mark Meadows or Rudy Giuliani—or for Trump himself, reports New York’s Daily News.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has decided to proceed to try Trump and his two top lieutenants as the alleged ringleaders of his plot to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State and elsewhere, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, November 28.

Willis has named Trump the leader of the multipronged conspiracy to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have hoped to wriggle off the hook in the Georgia case, but has so far unsuccessfully sought to have his case moved to federal court. He offered some cooperation to Special Counsel Jack Smith in exchange for testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the election interference case, but has apparently not made any formal cooperation deal.

Giuliani faces a plethora of legal woes in Georgia and elsewhere—including a slam-dunk defeat in a defamation case filed by Atlanta election workers whom he falsely accused of rigging votes for President Biden. The judgment could bankrupt him.

The ex-mayor also is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election interference case led by Smith. He submitted to questioning by Smith’s team in what legal analysts called an effort to win a deal to avoid prosecution, but there is no sign that he was successful.

Aside from signaling danger to Meadows and Giuliani, the reported decision by Willis could serve as a flashing invitation to the other dozen or so remaining co-defendants to step up talks for plea agreements in the sprawling case.

The most prominent name that was left off of Willis’ must-face-trial list is

pro-Trump law professor John Eastman.The right-wing law professor is considered the architect of Trump’s alleged scheme to convince Republican lawmakers in Georgia and other battleground states to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors to muddy the waters of Biden’s victory.

That is one of several intertwined plots laid out in the RICO indictment, along with an effort to bully officials into investigating bogus claims of widespread voter fraud and a bizarre plan to hack into voting machines in a rural pro-Trump Georgia county.

So far, three other Trump lawyers have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Trump and the others, along with a Trump campaign activist who allegedly aided the Coffee County voting machine effort.

That leaves 14 co-defendants still facing the prospect of going on trial alongside Trump. Several of them are relatively low-level participants in the plot; or fake electors who legal analysts say should have a strong incentive to plead guilty and put the case behind them.

Georgia’s RICO law carries sentences of up to 20 years in prison and would not be subject to pardons. The statute is considered a particularly powerful weapon for prosecutors, and Willis has proven her effectiveness at using it to jail crooked mobsters, drug dealers and even cheating teachers.

Willis has asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to set an August 5 date for the trial, which is expected to last several months. lf that schedule holds, Trump would face the daunting prospect of being on trial in an Atlanta courtroom during the last months of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump faces a March 4 trial in Washington, D.C., in the federal election interference case presided over by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

 

Trump told nuclear sub secrets to Australian billionaire—who went on to tell 45 others

October 9, 2023

Former President Donald Trump reportedly shared details about America’s nuclear submarine program with an Australian billionaire, who then went on to tell journalists, foreign officials, and others about the sensitive information, HuffPost reports.

ABC News first reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith had learned about Trump’s disclosure to the billionaire—a cardboard magnate named Anthony Pratt —as part of his investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents. Trump allegedly told Pratt several government secrets about the submarines during an event at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence in Palm Beach, Florida, where the billionaire is a member.

Pratt reportedly told prosecutors and FBI agents that Trump brought up the submarine fleet in April 2021, after he had left the White House. The former president then revealed the supposed number of nuclear warheads that are on board U.S. submarines at any time and how close the vessels can get to a Russian submarine without detection.

The billionaire, ABC News added, shared that information with at least 45 people, including three former Australian prime ministers, a half dozen journalists and other foreign officials. Australia recently inked a deal with the United States to spend up to $245 billion over the next three decades to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

It’s unclear if the details were accurate, or if they were bluster or exaggerations, but ABC News reported that Pratt was informed by investigators not to share the numbers he was reportedly given.

The New York Times, which confirmed the report with people familiar with the matter, said the details would be highly protected information and could endanger the U.S. nuclear fleet if made public.

A former Australian ambassador to the United States told the paper the information wasn’t new to his country, saying: “If that’s all that was discussed, we already know all that.

“We have had Australians serving with Americans on U.S. submarines for years, and we share the same technology and the same weapons as the U.S. Navy,” the former ambassador, Joe Hockey, said.

The reported information was not included in Smith’s federal indictment of Trump earlier this year related to his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump was charged with 40 counts related to willful retention of documents and obstruction of justice. But it could be used as part of the ultimate case against him to bolster any pattern of Trump’s handling of sensitive material.

A Trump spokesperson told ABC that the former president did “nothing wrong,” adding the report lacked “proper context and relevant information.”

“President Trump did nothing wrong, has always insisted on truth and transparency, and acted in a proper manner, according to the law,” the spokesperson told ABC News.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Poll: Majority of Americans want Trump trial to be scheduled before 2024 election

August 30, 2023

An overwhelming majority of Americans—including, crucially, nearly two-thirds of Independents—want former President Donald Trump to stand trial in the Justice Department’s 2020 election case before the 2024 election, reports Vanity Fair.

A Politico Magazine/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,032 Democratic, Republican, and Independent adults between August 18 and August 21—a period slightly less than three weeks after Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted the former president in a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

The poll, released on Friday, August 25, was conducted just days after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump and 18 others for their election meddling in Georgia.

The results show a marked uptick in seeing Trump stand trial before the 2024 election—demonstrating the severity and magnitude of the latest charges and complicating the former president’s insistent claims that criminal indictments only boost his political prospects. In June, a Politico/Ipsos poll asked a similar scheduling question after Trump’s classified documents indictment in Florida, and fewer than half of independents said they wanted to see a trial before the election.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan held a scheduling hearing on the federal case. Smith’s office requested a January 2, 2024 trial date, while Trump’s lawyers are asked that the trial the scheduled in 2026. Stating that she disagreed with both dates, Chutkan instead scheduled the trial to begin on March 4, 2024.

The poll also provides a window into how Trump’s response to his various indictments may—or may not—be landing with voters. Despite the former president’s cries of “corruption” in the cases against him, more poll respondents said they believed Trump had weaponized the legal system than President Biden.

More than half of respondents—including 56% of independents—said the Trump DOJ had improperly investigated political opponents. Asked about the behavior of various players in the criminal cases, respondents gave Trump the worst favorability rating of all: net negative by 31 points.

The DOJ and Smith came out with net favorable ratings, while Attorney General Merrick Garland notched an even split.

Additionally, the poll also shows a marked lack of public knowledge about the case, with between roughly one-quarter and one-third of the respondents reporting that they do not understand the charges very well. As the cases unfold and new information becomes public, Trump’s numbers might considerably worsen.

As for what voters would like the outcome of the cases to be, half of the poll’s respondents said they thought Trump should go to prison if convicted in the DOJ’s January 6 case. That number included 51% of Independents.

Research contact: @VanityFair

Mark Meadows says Trump left top secret Iran war plans on couch at Bedminster golf resort

August 22, 2023

Ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote in a draft of his memoir that his old boss, former President Donald Trump, left a top-secret Iran war plan on a couch at his New Jersey golf resort during an interview with a ghost writer, reports the New York Daily News.

Indeed, Meadows told prosecutors from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team that he heard about the shocking incident by the writer and a publicist; but soft-pedaled it in the final published version of his book because it could be “problematic” for Trump, ABC News reported.

“On th couch in front of [Trump’s)] desk, there’s a four-page report typed up by (Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley) himself,” the draft read, according to ABC. “It shows the general’s own plan to attack Iran, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”

Trump has been charged with improperly showing the document to the underlings as part of a superseding indictment to the classified documents case.

He was already charged with mishandling dozens of documents that he took with him when he left the White House and defying official efforts to get them back.

Trump allegedly brought the Iran war plan to New Jersey and whipped it out to show the underlings during an interview in summer 2021 as Meadows collected material for his book, “The Chief’s Chief.”

Considering it important ammunition in his odd feud with Milley, Trump was already accused of boasting to the aides that the document proved his point that Milley was a warmonger.

In so doing, Trump admitted that the document remained classified and that he shouldn’t be showing it—effectively contradicting his own oft-repeated claims he had declassified all the documents.

“It is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information,” Trump said, according to an audiotape of the meeting. “Look, look at this. This was done by the military and given to me. As president I could have declassified, but now I can’t.”

The new bombshell suggests Trump was even more reckless than previously known with the secret plan, which would be of immeasurable value to geopolitical enemies or the United States; as well as Iran-hating allies like Israel and particularly Saudi Arabia.

Meadows told prosecutors that Trump never told him he had declassified large numbers of secret documents—contradicting his former boss’ claims about the documents. He also shot down the outlandish claim that Trump had a so-called “standing order” to declassify any documents he took away from the White House.

The report did not clear up uncertainty about Meadows’s role in the various prosecutions of Trump.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Fani Willis’s grand-slam indictment against Donald Trump

August 16, 2023

Like a clean-up hitter in baseball, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has hit a grand slam home run with her indictment of former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

It is by far the most comprehensive of the four criminal indictments now pending against the former president—in terms of the kinds of crimes it alleges, the places in which they occurred, and the number of people charged.

Georgia, which was ground zero for Trump’s lies about the election outcome and his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, now looks like it also will be ground zero for those seeking to hold the former president accountable.

The indictment filed by Willis draws on various state laws to name what Trump did in the wake of the 2020 election and rightly calls the Trump campaign a criminal enterprise for the coordinated efforts it made to overturn the election results.

While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s August 1 indictment seemed narrowly focused and tailored to avoid any unnecessary legal complexity, Willis appears to have chosen a different path.

The Georgia indictment lays out, in soup-to-nuts fashion, many crimes. Some are already well-know and, if proven, are quite serious. Others, although also serious, have received much less publicity.

The indictment does a service to American democracy by providing the broadest possible framework to describe the crimes that Trump and others allegedly committed in Georgia and elsewhere.

As the indictment states in its succinct introduction: “Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

“That conspiracy,” the indictment continues, “contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states … including, but not limited to, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia.”

The charges contained in the 41-count indictment involve Trump and 18 others, a rogues’ gallery of collaborators in the ex-president’s alleged criminal enterprise, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell, and Jeffrey Clark. The named defendants are liable to severe criminal penalties, with the very real prospect that some, or all of them, will end up joining the 47,000 people already serving time in Georgia prisons.

At the heart of Willis’s grand slam indictment is the charge that Trump’s conduct violated Georgia’s laws against racketeering, a type of organized crime typically involving fraud or extortion. This charge conjures images of the kinds of things done by Al Capone or Jimmy Hoffa—and now of the four-time indicted former president.

Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), enacted in 1980, was written more broadly than its federal counterpart. Under Georgia’s law, it is easier to prove a pattern of racketeering than it would be with a federal RICO charge. As The Guardian notes, “It requires prosecutors to show the existence of an ‘enterprise’—and a pattern of racketeering activity that is predicated on at least two ‘qualifying’ crimes.”

Among those crimes the indictment lists: making false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020 election; corruptly soliciting Georgia officials, “including the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to violate their oaths to the Georgia Constitution and to the United States Constitution by unlawfully changing the outcome of the November 3, 2020 presidential election”; and creating “false Electoral College documents and recruit[ing] individuals to convene and cast false Electoral College votes.”

The Georgia indictment also charges Trump and others with conspiracy to commit election fraud. Those efforts include what Trump calls his “perfect phone call” to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the then-president asked him to find 11,780 votes and warned he might face criminal prosecution if he failed to do so.

Using the racketeering charge for Trump’s election tampering efforts, seems, at first glance, to be going into what Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis calls “deeply uncharted territory.” Applying it in this context, he says, “is very new. That is something that we haven’t seen in Georgia before, and it hasn’t really happened elsewhere before.”

And because of its complexity—trying a racketeering case with 19 defendants, each with their own lawyer and legal strategy—it will not be easy to pull off. But, given Willis’s track record, Trump should take this racketeering charge very seriously.

If it is televised, America will see defendant Trump sitting quietly with his lawyers while he is prosecuted by a Black woman in a city which Joe Biden carried overwhelmingly. This is hardly the visual which our reality-TV-star-turned-president generally prefers, although it may play into his overarching narrative of victimization in a demographically changing America.

In the end, the filing of Willis’s indictment means that Georgia will be, as lyrics in the well-known song by Ray Charles say, very much on Trump’s mind—as well as on the minds of Americans seeking a forum to examine the damage he has done to our democracy.

Research contact: @thehill