I'm especially put off by the notion that somehow we'd be "sparing the country" of some psychic trauma if we don't prosecute him for anything. And that notion just goes unchallenged and no one even asks what that means. Aren't we equally putting the country "through something" if we don't charge him if he is deserving to be?
We would be telling the country, as loud as we can, that the wealthy and powerful CAN get away with it and the law will never hold them accountable. The most horrifying betrayals of our nation will not be punished if you are rich and politically connected.
That is what not pursuing this to its logical conclusion would mean.
Edited by Andrew Bitner on 26 September 2022 at 11:06am
It's not like this is unprecedented, we've sent powerful people to jail before, and without the symbolism that the former presidency represents. Heck, Spiro Agnew (a very Lee/Kirby name, I always though) voluntarily resigned as Vice-President over much less.
Agnew was forced out and because of the circumstances the people forcing his resignation were VERY worried. By comparison, do you think Trump would resign from anything in the face of criminal evidence?
"Also, the Special Master case schedule has outlined a process by which both parties will identify the ownership of all documents. I predict this process will have a bearing on what claims could be made in future courts by Trump."
I disagree. As the President, he had the authority to declassify documents. That's undisputed.
Trump has already claimed he could declassify a document just by thinking about it (an absurd position). From there, the next logical step would be for the defense to say that Trump did declassify all of the documents that were taken to Mara Lago.
So once the process of sorting everything through the special master is done, the focus of the case will turn to whether these documents were declassified, what is the proper procedure for declassifying them, and whether the President is bound by those procedures (if you think Trump won't produce a Constitutional Law expert [Dershowitz] to support his position, you're fooling yourself).
John W, declassification is a red herring. The crimes with which he might be charged don't require that the documents he has be classified.
In any case, there is a process by which documents can be declassified--and Trump didn't follow it with any of the documents recovered so far. (If they are declassified, they are marked as such--not a single one has been noted as having that marking, which is a significant detail.)
It's also not entirely accurate that he has the power to declassify ANY document. There are classification levels that require the departments owning those to concur with any declassification request; the president cannot unilaterally declassify those. And apparently Trump had some of those at Mar-a-Lago.
John W; Judge Dearie gave Trump and his lawyers opportunity to submit evidence and affidavits to indicate if the documents had been declassified in support of their claims the documents were owned by Trump. They submitted nothing to contest the classification of any document taken from Mar-a-Lago. I strongly doubt they will bring a lawsuit. What would be the argument? What would be the claim? They have let the opportunity to contest DOJ ownership pass.
Remember this is about ownership of the documents, not classification. DoJ says they own the documents and cites the classified/sensitive nature of the documents as proof. Trump claims ownership because he declassified the documents, but offers no proof of declassification. At the end of the Special Master proceedings a precedent will have been established. Besides, as Andrew points out, the process for declassification was not followed. A court case decided in 2020 established that Presidents must follow existing rules of declassification for documents.