President Biden has mocked Donald Trump’s claims that all classified material brought by him to his Florida home had been declassified beforehand.” I want you to know I’ve declassified everything in the world. I’m President, I can do — c’mon,” Biden has said, yhe quip reflected his most extensive remarks about an issue he has taken pains to keep at a distance. “I’ll let the Justice Department [deal with] that,” Biden said. He also repeatedly called MAGA Republicans “semi fascists”.
The many top-secret documents found at Mar-a-Lago on August 8 and referred to in the heavily redacted affidavit released by Attorney General Merrick Garland — so determined on getting to the truth — ‘belong’ to the people of America and the National Archives. Trump has, arguably, no power to declassify them. More than a dozen senior officials from the Trump administration believe the former president’s claim to be “patently false”.
There is little to learn from the 75 per cent blacked out 38 pages of the affidavit but there are a couple of things we can say with certainty. The FBI told Judge Bruce Reinhart the August 8 search would likely find “evidence of obstruction” and that there was “probable cause to believe” that classified national security papers were “improperly taken to unauthorised” locations at Trump’s resort. The FBI found 184 classified documents from 15 boxes returned by Trump’s team in January, 18 months after the return was requested.
The August 8 documents were effectively ‘scattered’ all over Mar-a-Lago, many with Trump’s hand-written remarks on them.
The affidavit used a handful of acronyms when describing the sensitivity of the documents, with US national security experts saying it “reveals the horrifying scope of this security breach”. The investigation is ongoing.
The most damning thing learned from the redacted affidavit was the suggestion that if some of the classified documents had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about US spies abroad. We don’t know they haven’t.
Likewise, we don’t know what Trump’s handwritten remarks entail, why he held on to some documents after last January and what he intended to do with the classified information and to what end? The US Department of Justice (DoJ) seems to know, and knows a lot more by some accounts.
Leading Harvard lawyer Laurence Tribe believes the there’s a case for criminal charges against Donald Trump. So does former Richard Nixon counsel John Dean, though other legal experts do not concur.
I suggest that were Trump to soon declare himself as running in 2024, it would prove embarrassingly awkward for charges to be pursued. However, he’d have to announce his campaign in the next two weeks, if he wanted to prevent being indicted under the Espionage Act after what the FBI has seemingly unearthed.
As I write Trump is huddled down with his lawyers — what’s left of them as all the top ones have deserted him; huddled down and considering his options as he also faces potential legal charges in Georgia, Florida, New York and Washington DC.
My money is on Trump being found wanting, not enough to necessarily go to prison but enough to prevent him ever running again for public office.
Here’s another thing. Were he to walk away from DoJ charges and the January 6 inquiry and run, the Democrats and President Biden, despite his popularity among Democrats being just 40 per cent, are beginning to rally, even if Biden’s student loan write-off Bill is proving divisive. However, it won’t primarily be student loans, nor law and order, nor walls closing off Mexico, nor, indeed, inflation that will dominate voters’ minds in the coming November midterms. It will be a woman’s right to choose.
What is different about 2022 is that the Republicans, who are shut out of both the White House and Congress, nonetheless saw their side make a dramatic and unpopular change to the status quo, as Republican appointees to the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
This has given the Democrats the rallying call they need for the midterms. Also, with Generation Z now old enough to run for Congress, voters’ desire for ‘fresher’ candidates seems to be less focused on being to the Right or the Left, but more focused on current issues.
Women who have never voted before or are old enough to vote for the first time will come out in droves to put Donald Trump and the alt-Right back in their box.
Time will tell…