No One Mentions The Death Penalty
The DOJ unsealed the 49 page, 37 count indictment (including 31 counts of violations of the Espionage Act) against Trump yesterday. The case is shocking and Trump should get the death penalty. The top secret documents Trump stole includes information on defense and weapons capabilities of both the U.S. and other countries. That includes U.S. nuclear programs, potential U.S. and allies’ vulnerabilities to military attack; and actual plans for retaliation in response to a foreign attack. The disclosure of these classified documents puts this country’s national security at risk and Trump should be tried, found guilt and promptly executed.
In short, these are the criminal charges:
Willful retention of national defense information
Conspiracy to obstruct justice
Corruptly concealing documents/records
Concealing a document in a federal investigation
Scheme to conceal
False statements and representations
The Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner delineated and explained all the charges and penalties— 7 federal laws (37 charges).
Espionage Act/unauthorized retention of national defense information: Trump is charged with 31 counts of violating a part of the Espionage Act that bars willful retention of national defense information by someone not authorized to have it. Such information is defined as “any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” Technically, that information does not have to be classified, but in practice the law is almost exclusively used to prosecute retention of classified material. In Trump’s case, prosecutors say that all but one of the 31 documents he is charged with illegally retaining were marked as classified at the “secret” or “top secret” level. The unmarked document concerned “military contingency planning,” according to the indictment.
A conviction does not require any evidence of a desire to disseminate the classified information; having it in an unauthorized location is enough. But the crime requires a “willful” mishandling of material “the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” Charges are generally not brought without some aggravating factor making clear the retention was not accidental — such as evidence of intent to share the information, signs of disloyalty to the U.S. government, or simply the volume of documents taken.
Unlike other government employees, the president does not go through a security clearance process that includes a pledge to follow classification rules. But Trump received requests from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and subpoenas from the Justice Department indicating that the documents in question were classified and needed to be returned to the U.S. government. Prosecutors say he instead sought to hide them from federal investigators. And while the president can declassify most information, there is a process for doing so. According to the indictment, Trump twice showed classified information to others, once while saying that the document was still classified and lamenting that he no longer had the power to declassify it.
Conspiracy to obstruct justice: Trump is charged with one count of conspiring with Nauta to hide the classified material from federal investigators, by lying to the FBI about what was found at Mar-a-Lago and moving boxes of documents out of a storage room before agents searched the home. Trump specifically is accused of suggesting that one of his attorneys lie to the FBI and help hide or destroy documents, which investigators had demanded with a subpoena.
Tampering with grand jury evidence: Trump and Nauta face two counts of trying to keep evidence out of grand jurors’ hands: one count of withholding the classified documents and one of corruptly concealing them. As part of those charges, Trump is accused of trying to persuade one of his attorneys to help conceal the documents, while Nauta is accused of hiding the evidence by moving the boxes of classified documents.
Concealing evidence in a federal investigation: For the same alleged conduct of hiding the classified information still at Mar-a-Lago, Trump and Nauta separately face one count of concealing evidence with the intent to obstruct an FBI investigation.
False statements: Both Trump and Nauta together face one count of scheming to making false statements for allegedly hiding from the FBI and the grand jury that the former president still had classified documents in his possession. Trump faces a separate count for causing his attorney to falsely claim in June 2022 that all classified documents in the former president’s possession had been handed over in response to a subpoena, according to the indictment. Nauta alone is accused of lying to the FBI by falsely claiming that he had nothing to do with moving any boxes.
The maximum punishment for each count of unlawful retention of national defense information is 10 years in prison. Conspiracy to obstruct justice, tampering with grand jury evidence, and concealing evidence in a federal investigation all carry punishments of up to 20 years. Each false statement charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.
If Trump was convicted on all charges, the sentences could run consecutively, amounting to hundreds of years in prison. But federal defendants are rarely given the maximum possible punishment. He does not face any mandatory minimum sentences.
The use of the phrase “mishandled classified documents” was always a foolish way to describe his crimes and led his simpleminded supporters ti imagine he was sloppy in the way he stored them… or slipped coffee of some papers. That phrase doesn’t convey any of the gravity of what he did. Trump hid boxes top secret documents all over Mar-A-Lago, including a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, his office, his bedroom and a storage room. I would bet his hid documents around his other properties as well and I would also bet he sold documents to America’s enemies.
Jack Smith gave a short televised statement yesterday: “The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people. Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and they must be enforced.”
The indictment includes 2 instances from last year when Trump shared top secret information with people who had no security clearances and confirms a CNN report on the existence of a recording in which Trump indicates he understood that he did not and he could not declassify any of the stuff he stole.
The indictment cites notes from a May 23 conversation between Trump and Evan Corcoran, then one of his lawyers, in which Trump questioned whether he had to fully comply with a subpoena for the stolen documents, including making the statements, "I don't want anybody looking through my boxes; I don't want you looking through my boxes; Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?" and, Mafia style, “Well look, isn't it better if there are no documents?”
Trump finally turned over 30-some odd additional stolen documents plus a letter stating that a diligent search had turned up nothing more. That was a lie and Trump was still illegally holding onto top secret documents he obviously wanted to profit from.
The indictment states that between May 23, 2022, and June 2, 2022 Trump ordered his valet, Walt Nauta, to move 64 boxes out of the Mar-a-Lago storage room and into Trump's private residence so that he could personally go through the contents. Nauta— who has also been indicted— brought back only 30 boxes to the storage room. According to the indictment this was hidden from Corcoran.
That’s when the search warrant was issued and executed (August 2022), finding another hundred stolen documents Trump had withheld. Yesterday two of Trump’s top attorneys, Jim Trusty and John Rowley, put out a joint statement that they were jumping from the sinking ship.
Yesterday Trump couldn't be controlled by anyone and he was all over his fake-Twitter site ranting and raving like a lunatic. How about these two:
What concerns me is that Aileen Cannon, widely considered the least qualified & most partisan federal judge in Florida— Trump appointee— has been assigned to oversee the case, absolutely guaranteeing he will never serve 1 day in prison no matter how guilty he is found to be!