The second Trump indictment drops

Serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) has now been indicted on criminal charges for the second time. The first time was a few months ago in Manhattan on state charges related to his paying hush money to porn stars. This time it is on federal charges in Florida relating to his withholding of classified documents after he left the presidency. He is expected to turn himself in in a Miami federal courthouse on Tuesday where the indictment will be unsealed and he will be formally charged. SSAT’s lawyer has said there are seven criminal counts including violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. He will of course plead not guilty but by all accounts the case against him this time is stronger than the earlier one.

The main danger for SSAT in this case is the charge that he willfully withheld classified documents even when asked for them, thus triggering prosecution under the Espionage Act, which is pretty serious. If he had readily handed them over when they were found (as Mike Pence and Joe Biden did), then he would likely not have been charged. There is evidence that he knew that he had classified documents in his possession and yet did not hand them over when asked to do so. For some reason that I still cannot fathom, SSAT wanted to keep these documents even after leaving office. SSAT’s motivations are mostly grifting and narcissism but it is not clear where those fit in in this case.

There has been some upheavals in SSAT’s legal teams with two of his attorneys leaving and being replaced by others.

This is not all. There are still possible further indictments to come in the state of Georgia relating to his efforts to change the election results there and another federal one in Washington DC relating to his involvement in the January 6th riot. And let us not forget the two pending civil lawsuits against him by E. Jean Carroll arising from his assault of her. It must be hard for him to keep track of all the lawyers who are involved in each of the cases.

Then there is the news that his valet Walt Nauta has also been indicted in the classified documents case.

Federal prosecutors have charged Donald Trump’s valet in addition to the former president as part of the criminal investigation examining retention of national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort and obstruction of justice, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The exact charges against the valet, Walt Nauta, were unclear because the indictment remains under seal. One lawyer for Nauta could not confirm the indictment and another lawyer for Nauta who is off on vacation could not immediately be reached for comment.

Nauta has been under scrutiny for potential obstruction charges after he told prosecutors that Trump had instructed him to move boxes of potentially classified documents out of the Mar-a-Lago storage room after the Justice department had issued a subpoena for the return of any such papers.

The lawyers for Nauta were also told last year by prosecutors that he had given them potentially conflicting testimony that could give rise to false statements charges, the people said. Prosecutors recommended that Nauta cooperate against Trump but were rebuffed.

Republicans are once again being urged by SSAT to rally to his defense (and send him money) and most are dutifully obliging but one gets the sense that they are getting a little weary about having to repeatedly go out on a limb to defend an out-of-control narcissist who seems to think he is above the law. Mitt Romney’s statement is one example.

Like all Americans, Mr Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The government has the burden of proving its charges beyond a reasonable doubt and securing a unanimous verdict by a South Florida jury.

By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others.

Mr Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.

These allegations are serious and if proven, would be consistent with his other actions offensive to the national interest, such as withholding defensive weapons from Ukraine for political reasons and failing to defend the Capitol from violent attack and insurrection.

Mike Pence’s statement also avoided giving a full-throated. defense of SSAT, calling instead for the immediate unsealing of the indictment, which is a rather minor issue since keeping indictments under seal until the formal arraignment in court is not unusual. In fact, to do otherwise is for prosecutors to risk being accused of trying the case in public instead of the courts. [UPDATE: It looks like the indictments are going be unsealed today after all.]

All this legal drama surrounding SSAT, which will continue for years as the system works its ways through the courts, will be a problem for the other candidates running for the GOP nomination because it will take the spotlight away from them and the main question that they will be asked to respond to is where they stand on this issue.


  1. Matt G says

    Ironic that he signed into law harsher penalties for anyone withholding classified documents.

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