The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Looking Forward to the Indictments

Yesterday I linked to a column by Aaron Blake, Trump’s nonsensical riff on past presidents and classified documents at the Washington Post. But what I was too slow to put together is that the nonsensical riff amounted to a confession that he took the government documents and kept them on purpose.

Seth Meyers picked up on it, too.

See also:

On Monday’s edition of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” legal analyst Elliot Williams broke down the controversial argument Trump made at his Mesa, Arizona rally in defense of hoarding classified documents at his Florida country club — an argument his legal team has so far declined to make when under oath in court.

“I had a small number of boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago guarded by Secret Service and my people and everybody,” said Trump in the clip played on CNN. “I mean, it’s safe. There is no crime, there is no crime. It’s not a crime. And they should give me immediately back everything that they’ve taken from me because it’s mine, it’s mine.”

“So when you listen to that, does it make the attempt to blame that government agency look even more absurd?” asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“It does,” said Williams. “That is what prosecutors would call a confession for a crime, and the mere fact that you think it’s not a crime doesn’t change that fact. Look, Wolf, I can burn your house down and if I burn your house down and say, you know what, I didn’t commit arson, I was just playing with fire at Wolf’s house, it’s still an act of arson. Whatever, we don’t even need to explain that point.”

Andrew Weissman called Trump’s words at the rallies a “summation exhibit.”

Aaron Blake explained the “socks decision” Trump keeps talking about, which was about some recordings of President Clinton’s.

The recordings weren’t kept in Clinton’s sock but rather in his sock drawer (as Trump later correctly said)

More important: Clinton didn’t leave the White House with the recordings; they were stored in a sock drawer in the White House during Clinton’s tenure.

And they weren’t classified; they were tapes of conversations Clinton had with an author who was working on the president’s oral history.

A court decided that Clinton could keep the recordings, but of course the facts of this case in no way resemble what Trump did.

And Aaron Blake explained the bowling alley/Chinese restaurant that received papers of G.H.W. Bush.

In 1994, the Associated Press reported that items from Bush’s personal life were being sorted in College Station, Tex., “in the old Chimney Hill Bowl” and “in what used to be the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.”

It’s not at all clear what Trump was referring to by broken doors and windows. But the idea that there was “no security” is flat wrong. As the same story noted: “Uniformed guards patrol the premises. There are closed-circuit television monitors and sophisticated electronic detectors along walls and doors. Some printed material is classified and will remain so for years; it is open only to those with top-secret clearances.”

In other words, NARA built a secure facility in what used to be a Chinese restaurant/bowling alley.

Trump keeps bringing up Barack Obama also, but in every case the records he claims past presidents “took” were in fact in the custody of the National Archives at all times. And still are. They were never in the ex-presidents’ custody, even though NARA set up facilities near where the ex-presidents were living so that records they might want to consult were convenient to them. If Trump had asked I’m sure NARA would have done the same for him.

At The Atlantic, Franklin Foer writes that Merrick Garland will indict Trump; it’s just a matter of when. This and similar arguments I’ve seen recently boil down to the same primary point — Trump isn’t giving Garland any choice in the matter. Going around telling crowds of people that the stolen documents are “mine” is pretty much asking to be prosecuted.

The story is that Garland is a cautious and modest man who would rather swallow live frogs than indict a former president, especially one with a violent and cultish following. He knows that would put him at the center of a nuclear media firestorm at least. It’s a shame nobody could slam some criminal indictments on Trump before the primaries. But maybe it won’t be long after. If it isn’t Merrick Garland, maybe it will be Fani Willis in Georgia or — less likely, I suspect — Manhattan DA Alvin L. Bragg.


8 thoughts on “Looking Forward to the Indictments

  1. What lawyer would touch Trump with an 11-foot pole after the belligerent performance that amounts to a confession? The lawyer Trump hired for three million (cash up-front) has been sidelined by Trump. Why? In his professional read of the facts and the law, the lawyer for Trump (that you don't see anymore) advised Trump to shut up and let his mouthpiece negotiate a non-criminal settlement. Which Garland might have taken because he's bent over backward not to indict. 

    Trump misread Garland, I think. Trump thinks Garland is terrified of Trump which is why Trump thinks a good strategy is to bark and snarl at DOJ and the FBI. Trump is leaving Garland no option except to charge Trump because Garland is not and never has been frightened by Trump's act. But he's not 'gunning' for Trump. Hell, Garland warned Trump, "No one is above the law." IMO, had Trump given Garland any excuse not to charge Trump, he'd have taken it. But the only way Garland can walk away now is the blanket announcement that Trump IS above the law. 

    The trial of the Oath Keepers is pivotal and at the exact right time. I predict they will all be found guilty before the midterms and sentenced shortly after the midterms. My gut says the judge will throw the book at them. Sentenced in the teens, approaching the max of twenty years for some. If the gods smile on things, Trump will be charged soon after and he's gonna call for "protests like Antifa."  It's gospel to those folks that Antifa burned cities down and liberals just looked the other way. Trump thinks Garland is a wimp who can't stand the heat Trump thinks he can bring.

    I don't think the Proud Boys or Three Percenters or the Oath Keepers are gonna riot for Trump. There might be one or two loners who make suicide attacks on federal buildings and get shot dead on the spot. That will serve almost as well as twenty-year sentences for the Oath Keepers as a deterrent. They know – Trump called them out to fight for Trump on J6 – they did and they lost. Trump did nothing in the way of pardons or protection – he hung them out, something the defense will bring out in the trial for the Oath Keepers. 

    Trump will turn up the volume on his calls for violence in the primaries – this will work out for Trump the same way conscription is working for Putin. Trump will look like a defeated tyrant trying to delay the consequences of his foolishness, willing to sacrifice as many pawns as it takes to delay defeat for one more day. 

  2. Teri Kanefield (you must sign up for her weekly emails), wrote about how there’s a moment of truth – when the light comes on for most clients as they slowly realize that they’re in deep sh$t, and they at long last start to listen to their attorney. You can imagine someone who’s been a defense attorney for decades knowing and savoring this sweet moment very well. This hasn’t happened yet for Trump, and so he continues to motor-mouth, digging his hole ever deeper. This 70-some year old man has never ever faced any consequences whatsoever. Why stop now?

    Trump thinks "his judges" will save him. It worked in NYC, right?

    • I had a great public defender, overworked, but really committed to my defense. And he never used a high-profile case to advance himself – not once. For backup, we added a specialist in civil disobedience law. 

      They never discouraged me from speaking my mind, and they'd explain if and why a suggestion was a dumb-shit idea. Without using that description. If I have nothing else to my credit, I paid attention to their advice and followed it (with only one exception), sometimes after kicking and screaming, because they both understood the ethical obligation to defend me to the best of their (considerable) abilities. 

      Clearly, TFG thinks that because he's paying the bill, the lawyer(s) must listen to him and follow his advice – no matter how stupid! This seems like it will be Trump's undoing. He's (quite possibly) destroyed any possible defense except insanity.

  3. Maybe Trump will be indicted at Thanksgiving. That would provide me with an occasion to have a true Thanksgiving holliday. All of us who seek justice could feast from an abundance of joy in watching Trump get delivered up to the American Justice system. To alter the words while retaining the spirit of the famous cry of jubilation of Dr. Martin Luther King, I would be saying…Indicted at last, indicted at last. Thank God almighty, he's been indicted at last.

  4. Great article in the NYT about Christina Bobb. A True Believer, and someone who went thru Marine Corp officer candidate school, and basic training, 1 of 16 women in a class of 280.

    A couple comments stood out:

    Ms. Bobb is in an ethical pickle that she won’t escape. She attested to the truth of untrue statements in a brief filed in a legal proceeding. The bigger mistake, in the best reading, was not recognizing that she was being used as a proxy for the misstatements known by lawyers Corcoran and Ephstyn in that Court filing.

    The attestation she signed, i.e.“The above statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge”, does not create and will not be considered a loophole to those intentional misstatements. A lawyer who makes such a statement on any document is making a certification that she or he knows enough about the facts to be able to state that the written statements made above her signature are true and accurate.

    Here’s what I believe she should have done (but did not). Before she agreed to sign anything Corcoran put in front of her, she should have read the document. She should have asked questions and should have asked her inquisitors to show her where those documents had been stored. She should have made a search herself. Most of all, she should have directly asked Corcoran and Ephstyn why they, who wrote or supervised directly the writing and composition of the document, wouldn’t sign it themselves. She shouldn’t have signed.

    Bobb was the decoy for the lawyers who wrote those briefs, and she was being set up as the fool to take the fall, conduct that is unethical and punishable. Corcoran won’t escape accountability, either.


    Only one thought – this could not happen to a “nicer gal.” Fatally ambitious, openly dishonest, a hard right exponent, a poster child for blind ambition. She might dodge a criminal conviction by ratting on her other cronies, but I fervently hope she loses her law license. We have enough cheap crooks like her in the law. One fewer such crook won’t be missed.

    • Let's hope that Christina Bobb upholds the time honored tradition of… The few, The proud, The disbarred.

  5. I want to see TFG convicted of Obstruction of Justice, violation of the Espionage Act, and more.  But I worry sometimes that the talking heads are getting a little ahead of themselves.

    I don't understand why eminent lawyers on left-leaning TV go along with the idea that what TFG has been saying out loud at his rallies amounts to evidence of criminal intent or other aspects of prosecutorial requirements that are often difficult hurdles to conviction.  Don't they realize that nothing he says at a rally is said under oath?  If they try to introduce that video as evidence, won't he simply say this? "I was lying. I didn't actually think that."  Help me out, lawyerly guys! I want to see him go down.

    • I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that if Trump is confronted with that statement ( the document were mine) in a court of law and tries to pass it off as a deliberate lie then he would have to acknowledge in doing so that the documents belonged to the government. Either way he's boxed himself into a situation that no matter how he answers he's admitting he retained documents that were subject to be surrendered to the government by a subpoena.


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