Another bombshell in Donald Trump classified documents case! Is it the smoking gun though? The nail in the coffin?
To recap, since there are oh so many Trump legal perils these days… Last year we found out the National Archives had been trying for months to get back documents from the former POTUS, basically ever since he left office. If he’d just given them back, it wouldn’t have been a big deal — like it wasn’t for VP Mike Pence or for President Joe Biden, both of whom were found to have had some docs in private residences, where they weren’t supposed to. But see, Trump’s team allegedly deflected then eventually outright LIED about having the docs.
So the FBI had to be called in — they raided Mar-A-Lago, the former President’s Palm Beach, Florida, resort and found dozens of classified documents there, WAY more than anyone in the press had realized, that’s for sure. Not only that, these were Top Secret docs, some so highly classified they were never supposed to leave a special reading room. We’re talking national defense documents, nuclear secrets — stuff a private citizen, even a former president, had no business keeping. The type of stuff that gets people charged with espionage! Obviously that had never happened with a former president before, so the government has been all kid gloves here. The DOJ tapped a special counsel to lead the investigation, and goodness it has led to some shockers…
OK so here’s the latest: CNN has learned one of the most “important” pieces of evidence in this case is another leaked tape — only instead of talking about being inappropriate with women he’s talking about grabbing some national security secrets. Multiple sources told the news org that federal prosecutors have obtained audio of Trump, from July 2021, acknowledging he has top secret docs — and admitting he KNOWS HE SHOULDN’T! That’s important, keep that in mind.
During a meeting at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, per the sources, Trump says in a room full of aides, as well as two authors working on former chief of staff Mark Meadows‘ memoir, that he held onto a document from the Pentagon that he knows he’s not supposed to have anymore. Apparently, he tells them, the document describes a potential attack by the US on Iran.
WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF?!
This is what we mean when we’re talking about national secrets. Imagine how much this would be worth to the government of Iran or private contractors who could work for them! There’s no value to anyone else, of course. So why would he want it?? Except maybe bragging rights? Remember when we heard Trump had been showing off classified docs to Mar-a-Lago visitors? It’s a really stupid reason to compromise national defense, much dumber than getting paid billions of dollars — but that doesn’t make it not a violation of the Espionage Act. Per the sources, no one in that room had security clearances that would give them access to classified information AT ALL, much less this level.
Apparently Meadows’ ghostwriters were taking notes, too. A meeting which appears to be this one is specifically mentioned in his autobiography — it says Trump “recalls a four-page report” by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley which outlined his “plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.” Whoa.
Casual reminder, btw — that’s just one of MANY documents…
What This Proves
First off, this is proof he knew he had a top secret document, that it wasn’t accidentally taken. Second, because he mentions he kept it even though he wasn’t supposed to, it’s proof he knew he was doing something wrong! So when the National Archives came calling, he knew he was supposed to return it!
Third, and this is a big one, during the meeting he mentions specifically that the document is still classified. Why does that matter?
Well, Trump’s big argument against criminal charges in this case is saying he did nothing wrong because he had declassified all the material — he just hadn’t told anyone. Remember? He told pal Sean Hannity on prime time TV he could do it with his mind:
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it. You’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it.”
First off, that’s not true — and would make him sound like a bit of an idiot if he actually believed it.
But this seems to be proof he never believed that BS anyway! Two sources told CNN that on this audio tape Trump expressly mentions he “would like to share the information” in the document with them but knows he isn’t able to declassify it since he isn’t president anymore.
If he acknowledges in summer of 2021 that it’s still classified, and that he kept it even though he shouldn’t, and that he knew he wasn’t able to declassify it, that’s pretty much the whole ball game, right?
The most obvious legal case against Trump here has always been obstruction of justice. After all, it seemed pretty clear ever since that FBI raid that the ex-POTUS was lying about having given back all the classified documents. Obstruction is all about proving the suspect knew they were guilty of a crime — and that’s why they were covering it up. This seems to be the smoking gun, right?
What do YOU think about this latest piece of evidence? Will it make a difference with Teflon Don?
[Image via ABC News/YouTube/Department of Justice.]