Trump’s Theft of ‘Public Property’ Can Be Used to Ban Him From Holding Office Again: Watergate Lawyer
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” former Watergate lawyer Jill Wine-Banks made the case that Donald Trump’s taking and keeping of documents — some labeled “Top secret” — at Mar-a-Lago is cause for banning him from holding office again.
“Exactly how much trouble could he be in here for removing classified files from the White House, Jill?” host Jonathan Capehart asked.
“There are laws that prohibit that,” the attorney explained. “In the past we have had examples of officials who have taken top-secret documents or classified documents, and have been charged with crimes, some of them have been given either probation or community service as their penalty.”
“This is illegal, to take away its government property,” she continued. “Right after Watergate, the Presidential Records Act was passed and was passed because of Nixon’s attempts to conceal documents and to destroy documents.”
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‘We have the 18-minute gap in Watergate and the gap in the phone logs and in social media accounts right now, plus, these 15 cartons of documents that were taken, they are public property, they do not belong to Donald Trump, they belong to the American people, and should have been given to the archives when he left the White House,” she elaborated. “So that could be a big problem and the penalty for that includes never being able to hold public office. forfeiture of office and barring from future office. That’s a pretty good penalty for what he did.”
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Classified Pentagon ‘War Plans’ Document Trump Bragged About in Audio Recording Is Missing: Report
Donald Trump’s legal team has been unable to locate the classified Pentagon document detailing a possible attack on Iran the ex-president was recorded at his Bedminster golf resort in 2021 bragging he had held onto.
“Attorneys for Donald Trump turned over material in mid-March in response to a federal subpoena related to a classified US military document described by the former president on tape in 2021 but were unable to find the document itself, two sources tell CNN,” the network reported Friday. “Prosecutors issued the subpoena shortly after asking a Trump aide before a federal grand jury about the audio recording of a July 2021 meeting at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.”
In that audio recording Trump allegedly says he wished he could show the document, but acknowledges it is classified and therefore he is not allowed to share it. Attendees in that 2021 meeting reportedly did not have clearance to even know about the existence of the document.
“Prosecutors sought ‘any and all’ documents and materials related to Mark Milley, Trump’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Iran, including maps or invasion plans, the sources say. A similar subpoena was sent to at least one other attendee of the meeting, another source tells CNN.”
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The Pentagon appears greatly concerned about the document, which legal experts have referred to as “war plans.”
CNN adds that its “sources say prosecutors made clear to Trump’s attorneys after issuing the subpoena that they specifically wanted the Iran document he talked about on tape as well as any material referencing classified information – like meeting notes, audio recordings or copies of the document – that may still be Trump’s possession.”
CNN also reports both DOJ and the Special Counsel’s office have expressed concerns Trump still has not returned all classified documents he unlawfully removed from the White House.
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Former DOJ Official Says Audio of Trump Admitting to Keeping ‘War Plans’ Makes it ‘Inconceivable’ He Will Not Be Charged
A former top U.S. Dept. of Justice official says it is “inconceivable” that Donald Trump will not be charged, based on reports Special Counsel Jack Smith has an audio recording of the ex-president admitting he was in possession of a classified Pentagon document detailing a possible attack on Iran.
“I think if this audio tape exists, this is not a question of if there are going to be charges. It’s just a question of when,” announced NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, the well-known former FBI General Counsel who worked at DOJ for two decades.
Importantly, Weissmann, who made his remarks on MSNBC Thursday, notes that the document in question, if it is as described, contains “war plans.”
“And the proof that we have learned just publicly is so strong. And Jack Smith is such a competent and aggressive prosecutor. It is inconceivable to me that this would not be charged, and having a tape recording of the prospective defendant admitting his possession of a classified document that he had no right to have,” Weissmann says.
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“And not just any classified document. I think it’s really important to remember that what he talks about reportedly, is a classified document involving something that is unbelievably sensitive, which is war plans of the United States against another country.”
Where news broke Wednesday NYU Law professor of law Ryan Goodman, a former U.S. Dept. of Defense Special Counsel, wrote: “War plans are among the most highly classified documents. Puts pressure on DOJ to indict, and a jury to convict.”
Some say, based on the audio, Trump might have been holding the document as he was being recorded at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf resort, allegedly discussing it.
“Make no mistake. This is squarely an Espionage Act case,” Goodman also said, calling the news a “bombshell.”
Explaining the gravity of the document, Weissmann notes, “this is not just taking love letters of Kim Jong Un or salacious material about the president in France. This is exactly what the Department of Justice and the intelligence community is worried about.”
Continuing to explain just how serious this is, Weissmann served up the ground rules.
“Let’s remember government documents, whether classified or not, belong to the government. They are not to be retained by a private citizen. And the former president is a private citizen. So for instance, when I was in the Department of Justice, the number of documents I could take when I left the Department of Justice would be zero. So you’re not supposed to have that possession of government documents. If they are classified, there can be an additional type of charge, but it’s not required that that material be classified or classified at a particular level.”
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“What you’re looking at here is whether the person either knowingly took the documents or knowingly retained the documents. Important this tape recording, if it exists, as recorded, is that you’ve got Donald Trump admitting that he has in his possession a classified document – doesn’t matter if it’s Secret, Top Secret, it’s classified, that itself is a crime.”
And then finally, with respect to dissemination, the recording is that there does appear to be at least some dissemination of the information because Donald Trump, although he doesn’t turn the document over or quote from it, he does talk about what is in there. In other words, the reason we’re all talking about the fact that involves war plans involving Iran is because reportedly that is what Donald Trump said was in the document. If that proves out, that is a form of dissemination.”
On social media later Thursday, Weissman tweeted, “Days, not months…” suggesting he believes an indictment of Trump would be coming sooner rather than later.
Watch Weissmann below or at this link.
Feds Have Trump on Tape Admitting He Kept Classified Pentagon Document of Possible Iran Attack: Report
Federal prosecutors have an audio recording of Donald Trump admitting in 2021 that he had kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack against Iran.
CNN, which published the exclusive report, notes the recording undercuts Trump’s “argument that he declassified everything.”
“The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said,” CNN adds.
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“Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the recording and the document before a federal grand jury,” CNN also reports. “The episode has generated enough interest for investigators to have questioned Gen. Mark Milley, one of the highest-ranking Trump-era national security officials, about the incident.”
The recording was apparently made in July of 2021 at a Trump golf course. People without security clearances were part of the meeting during which it was discussed.
The damning revelation gives credence to political analysts who pointed to Trump’s recent remarks at the highly-controversial CNN town hall, when he was asked if he had shown classified documents to anyone.
“Not really,” Trump said. “I would have the right to,” he claimed, falsely.
“By the way, they were declassified after,” he also claimed, falsely.
Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.
Tapper: Sources saying federal prosecutors obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting where the former president acknowledges he held on to a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack against Iran… pic.twitter.com/pF4u88f2mW
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 31, 2023
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