Why 'Donald Trump should have stayed quiet': legal experts

Why 'Donald Trump should have stayed quiet': legal experts

Following former President Donald Trump's indictment by a grand jury Thursday, legal experts say the 2024 hopeful should have kept his "mouth shut," The Daily Beast reports.

Trump was "charged with seven counts in the indictment" in the classified documents probe by the United States Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith.

Michigan criminal defense lawyer Jamie White told The Daily Beast, "I suspect his attorneys run into this ethical dilemma of their client doing the unthinkable and their advice not being taken, and then they become witnesses—most famously Mr. [Michael] Cohen, who arguably took instructions from Mr. Trump that was corroborated by the Mueller investigation, and he found himself in prison."

READ MORE: Trump indicted by grand jury: reports

The Daily Beast reports:

Trump has been all over the place while discussing classified documents—sometimes denying he had any, and other times claiming he was legally allowed to possess some. He bizarrely claimed last year—wholly incorrectly—that the president can declassify material 'even by thinking about it,' later adding that a president is free to declassify anything they want.

Still, White suggests "America's political climate is so fractured, he doesn’t expect Trump's indictment to have the same ramifications it would to a president in the 20th century," worrying "the repercussions if Trump is able to skirt justice despite a 'stunning' amount of evidence against him."

He emphasized, "You're going to have to close down an entire prison to incarcerate this man," adding, "At the same time, nobody is above the law. As soon as we agree that somebody is above the law, the entire system breaks down."

However, former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani said Trump's "lawyers are going to argue that the documents were declassified, and that he did so before he left office and that he was authorized to do so, adding, "But I don't think that argument's going to hold water, because there's a very specific procedure that you're supposed to follow."

READ MORE: Fani Willis’ latest moves strongly indicate a Trump indictment in Georgia is coming this summer

On the other hand, former Los Angeles County prosecutor Joshua Ritter told The Daily Beast "he believes Trump's statements likely aren't the "linchpin to the prosecution's case," but they aren't doing the former president any favors, either."

He added, "In any case where a defendant is very vocal and giving lots of statements about an ongoing investigation, it never seems to help them, and always seems to come back to haunt them."

Referring to Trump's choice to publicly defend himself, Daniel P. Meyer, a national security partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC's Washington, D.C., said, "The short answer is, no—it's not a good idea."

He continued, "In a criminal case, you want to keep your mouth shut, for a very simple reason: the government bears the burden of proving you're a criminal, insisting, "Donald Trump should have stayed quiet. And that's what he has not done."

READ MORE: Trump insists 'it’s not true' as indictment rumors spread: reports

Furthermore, The Daily Beast reports "Rahmani isn't sure Trump, a firebrand uncontainable by even the most well-respected lawyers in the country, is through with the incriminating statements just yet."

The former federal prosecutor said, "This guy will not follow Lawyering 101—just keep your mouth shut," adding, "Look, I know he's doing it for PR and political reasons, but he's really screwing himself when it comes to these criminal cases…I'm sure his lawyers are incredibly frustrated having to clean up his messes."

READ MORE: Beyond the indictment: Why prosecuting Donald Trump is not enough

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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