Two papers that look at Donald Trump’s criminal investigations agree: there’s enough evidence to charge him.
Veteran prosecutors and top legal minds weigh in on two ongoing investigations: one in Georgia is looking into Trump’s behavior in the state up until January 6, 2021, and the other was started by the Justice Department and is looking into how sensitive government documents were handled at Mar-a-Lago.
The lawyers found strong cases and serious legal risks for Trump, whose problems are getting worse as he prepares to run for president in early 2024. Trump has more legal problems than just these two investigations.
The most dangerous legal risks he faces are the Georgia investigation into whether his election denial crossed the line into criminality after 2020 and the federal investigation into whether his Mar-a-Lago documents crossed the line, Norm Eisen, who wrote both reports and represented Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment, told The Hill.
“They are a one-two punch that could finally make him answer for his actions… The streak is probably going to end with these two cases. Nearly 500 pages of legal analysis list state and federal crimes Trump may have committed, such as encouraging people to commit election fraud, breaking the state RICO Act, breaking the Espionage Act, and blocking the work of the law.
The Brookings Institution found that Trump could face state charges for his actions in Georgia after the election.
In a report from Just Security, former prosecutors talked about new laws that the Justice Department might consider using. They pointed out that not charging Trump for mishandling documents would be different from how other people have been treated when they have done similar things.
We have a good reason to charge Trump. They pointed out that the DOJ has prosecuted crimes that were not as bad as Trump’s. If Trump wasn’t charged, it would be very different from how defendants are usually treated.
The group, which includes prosecutors who worked on the Mueller report, said that Trump’s refusal to give the materials makes the case even more serious.
“In Trump’s case, things that made things worse were how long he kept federal records, how many papers he kept, how sensitive they were, how many warnings he got, how obstructive he was, and how he got others involved in his plan,” they said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland gave two Justice Department investigations to a special counsel on Friday, which was a big step forward.
Garland said that longtime prosecutor Jack Smith will be in charge of both the Mar-a-Lago investigation and the Jan. 6 investigation into “whether anyone or anything interfered improperly with the transfer of power.” Willis’ investigation won’t be affected by Smith’s appointment.
As Smith starts working and the Justice Department has court dates, there will be more investigations and scrutiny.
The special master’s review is making the Justice Department fight to get back more than 10,000 papers. If the 11th Circuit agrees with the agency and tells the papers to be sent back to the prosecutors after hearing arguments on Tuesday, this process could move along faster.
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A report from the House committee looking into the attack on the Capitol on January 6 is also due before the end of the year. The report is likely to include criminal referrals to the Justice Department.
The papers are meant to reassure Willis and other top prosecutors that they do have a case. In Georgia, lawyers have found a long list of laws that Trump might have broken, such as calling Secretary of State Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes.
Trump may have also messed with the election process on purpose, and his plan to use fake electors may have broken state fraud laws. The investigation lists 11 charges that could be brought against Trump because of what he did in Georgia.
“In Georgia, a single set of facts can make someone guilty of a crime under more than one law,” they write. In the study about Mar-a-Lago, experts found three more laws that could be involved. Two of them are about Trump’s resistance, which includes things like breaking the law and lying to the police.
They also want to make a law that makes it a 10-year crime to change government property into something else. Prosecutors must show that a defendant changed or kept government property for their use.
Trump has said he didn’t do anything wrong while criticizing the FBI and Justice Department. In the speech he gave this week to announce his campaign, he said, “System, FBI, or DOJ weaponization is the biggest threat.”
The reports also critique Trump’s probable defenses. Nearly 20 pages of the Mar-a-Lago paper were devoted to possible defenses for Trump, many of which had already been used in court. One by one, the report disproves Trump’s claims that he declassified the papers.
This is something that his lawyers haven’t fully argued in court, and it doesn’t matter much for allegations of stealing “national defense material” no matter how it was labeled. It also disagrees with Trump’s claims that the papers are his personal property and are protected by executive privilege. It also says that the agency didn’t follow the law during its investigation.
The Just Security report says that none of these security measures are complete or work well. In the Georgia study, the authors say that Trump has no protection for what he does as president, and they disagree with the idea that he can’t be prosecuted because he thinks he won the election.
If prosecutors can show that Trump knew he lost the election and that it wasn’t “stolen,” that would help them get past the “criminal intent” hurdle. The January 6 Committee has proof that Trump did not win the election. The paper says, “Many Trump advisers and lawyers have said this.”
Even if the evidence showed that Trump thought he had won, he didn’t have the right to use fake electoral certificates, force Georgia election officials to “find 11,780 votes,” or use any other illegal methods to stay in power.
Eisen said there are “clear-cut cases” in both investigations. “The proof is strong,” he said. “Two smoking guns, two clear and strong legal cases. There is no one above the law.”