Improper justice leaks spark explosive story about Trump’s classified documents stash
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In its battle with Donald Trump, the Department of Justice has just engaged in blatant leaks.
Leaking about an ongoing criminal investigation is highly inappropriate as it violates the rights of the target of the investigation.
Now I understand the temptation. Merrick Garland and his department have been crushed in the media war because Trump says what he wants and they must remain silent. In fact, it was the attorney general’s four days of silence following the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid that fueled a huge backlash from conservatives who saw it as a « shocking break-in » (in Trump’s words). ) by a politically motivated and open person. -of-service control.
And when Garland made a brief statement, he provided little information beyond that he had personally endorsed the research.
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So, with the DOJ badly bruised, « several people knowledgeable about the matter » provided a detailed defense to The New York Times.
As a journalist, I published endless stories based on leaks. But for a department that is often called upon to investigate leaks, this move in a criminal investigation is troubling.
The Times story is something of a bombshell, saying that « the government has recovered over 300 documents with classified marks from Mr. Trump since he left office » and that it « helps explain why the Department of Justice moved so quickly to track down any other classified materials he might have. »
Trump’s failure to return all classified documents despite previous visits and negotiations « suggested to officials that the former president or his aides had been cavalier in their handling, not fully open to investigators, or both. » .
Two other notable points: « Trump searched the boxes himself at the end of 2021, according to several people informed of his efforts, before handing them over. » And when Trump handed over a few dozen sensitive documents during a visit by a senior DOJ official in June, « one set had the highest level of classification, compartmentalized top secret/sensitive information. »
The ministry was also monitoring the security camera feed of the Mar-a-Lago storage room where the papers were kept, and « the combination of witness interviews and early security footage led ministry officials to Justice to begin drafting a search warrant request.”
So there you have it: Merrick Garland’s defense, sans Merrick Garland, provided behind a curtain of anonymity in a criminal investigation. (Clearly, some Trump sources also cooperated.)
Earlier Monday, the press focused on a Trump legal filing, asking that a judge appoint a special master, or outside expert, to review seized documents and « force the Justice Department to provide a more detailed explanation. » thorough investigation of why the search was necessary ». “, as the Washington Post puts it.
Calling the search politically motivated and « shockingly aggressive, » the filing says Trump cooperated with the investigation and that officers improperly took documents such as Trump’s passports (which is true and which been returned). The lawyers request that any material exceeding the scope of the mandate be returned to him.
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I don’t quite understand this file. The search was carried out two weeks ago. The horse came out of the stable. Justice officials are no doubt looking into what was seized.
The judge handling the case, Bruce Reinhart, is unlikely to hand things over to an outside expert, and why would he at this point? Usually a defendant who has been indicted makes this request to have the search quashed, but there are no charges against Trump, and none are imminent.
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Reinhart says the FBI affidavit is « reliable » to warrant the search, and he’s still willing to release portions of it, though he admits the redactions the DOJ will require might render it useless.
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Many media are acting as if an indictment of Trump is inevitable. I don’t think Garland can lay charges on a simple matter of classification, given the history of the wrist slaps on this issue. He would need solid evidence linking the former president to the endangerment of nuclear secrets or a more deliberate role in the Capitol riot – and would still need to assess the impact on the country.
If Garland decides not to prosecute, we won’t need any leaks to see that many of the people who are now reporting him for the search warrant would praise his wisdom and restraint, while many of the people who are now defending the search the would attack as timid and spineless. . This is the nature of our tribal politics.