Trump facing a 'substantial criminal case' after 'theft' of NSA documents: legal expert
According to the former general counsel for the FBI, reports that Donald Trump was holding onto 300 documents with classified markings at his Mar-a-Lago resort despite warnings from the government has presented DOJ officials with a rock-solid case for prosecution.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" with host Willie Geist, Andrew Weissmann called the reporting from the New York Times on the stolen documents "incredibly damning" for the former president.
According to the Times report, "The specific nature of the sensitive material that Mr. Trump took from the White House remains unclear. But the 15 boxes Mr. Trump turned over to the archives in January, nearly a year after he left office, included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest."
The Times also reported that "Mr. Trump went through the boxes himself in late 2021, according to multiple people briefed on his efforts, before turning them over."
Speaking with the MSNBC host, Weissman explained, "None of it was good for the president. The New York Times reporting I found most interesting because of one particular sentence, which is that several sources said that when the archives were trying to get documents back, that it was the former president, Donald Trump, who personally reviewed the boxes in deciding what to return. that means he also decided what not to return."
"And we know from the archive, not just from the New York Times, that in those 15 boxes were a substantial number of classified documents at the highest level," he continued. "That is TS/SCI, which is, you know, a compartmented program, special access programs. They constituted, just within the 15 boxes, 700 pages of classified documents -- so that is incredibly damning."
"If you are a prosecutor, you really look for evidence of what the former president did personally," he elaborated. "If the DOJ either knows about or is soon to interview those people who were sources for the New York Times, they're going to have a substantial criminal case."
Later asked to clarify what crime Trump committed he explained, "The federal crime is 18 U.S. Code § 641 for the nerds who want to look it up. That governs if you steal government property. That would require compliance by any former government official, including the former president, and it applies to classified or unclassified documents."
"One of the thing that is the national archives made clear is these are not your documents," he continued. "I think the motion that the former president made yesterday, where he asked for a special master, has a fatal flaw in it. Because one of the things he doesn't address is nothing needs to be sifted because none of the documents are actually the former president's. These all belong, whether classified or not classified, to the national archives."
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Weissmann added: "TIDBIT: The May 10 Archives letter makes evident that the Trump lawyers do NOT have clearance to access the classified docs, and Trump did not anymore. Thus, the Archives say counsel may review only the unclassified docs. No claim raised that the docs were all declassified."
\u201cTIDBIT: The May 10 Archives letter makes evident that the Trump lawyers do NOT have clearance to access the classified docs, and Trump did not anymore. Thus, the Archives say counsel may review only the unclassified docs. No claim raised that the docs were all declassified.\u201d— Andrew Weissmann (@Andrew Weissmann) 1661251508
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