Judge Postpones Decision on Whether Trump Will Get Special Master
After a little over 90 minutes in a closed courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon refused to issue an opinion in court on whether or not Donald Trump will get a special master to review the documents he stole from the White House for any attorney/client privilege.
Speaking to MSNBC, former prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Andrew Weissmann said that the judge not seeing any urgency to rush to issue a special master from the bench is a “good sign” for the Justice Department.
Former Justice Department prosecutor Barbara McQuade also said that if the judge was going to find for Trump she would likely do it in a dramatic way that was public and would calm MAGA world. Her other observation is that the judge could have put a pause on everything pending her written ruling and she didn’t do that either.
In court, the DOJ argued there is no need for a special master and that having one would only cause further delays in the criminal investigation, indicating that the prosecutors consider it a criminal investigation.
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Whether there is a special master or not, the case will still move forward with the Justice Department investigating the documents and how they got to Mar-a-Lago and who had access to them through security camera footage that observed people going into Trump’s office and the storage room.
According to photos taken in the office, Trump’s visitors in the room with the classified documents include Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, Kari Lake, Matt Gaetz, George Hamilton, Vanilla Ice, Alex Rodriguez, and The Nelk Boys.
Fingerprinting the documents will also distinguish who handled the documents outside of the former president.
CBS News’ Steven Portnoy reported that at one point in the trial, the judge indicated prosecutors may be “overreading” Nixon v. GSA which said that the National Archives could take personal documents, archive them and return them to the president if they deemed private. Trump skipped the first step in his case.
Nixon had attempted to block his personal documents and the Oval Office recordings that implicated his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Presidential Recordings and Material Preservation Act violated the presidential privilege of confidentiality.
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Jan. 6 Grand Jury Witnesses Are Being Asked What ‘National Security Levers’ Trump Was Trying to Pull
CBS News revealed a smidgen of news nested in a shocking episode of “Face the Nation,” in which Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) blamed Democrats for Donald Trump celebrating Jan. 6 attackers at his Waco, Texas rally over the weekend.
After, however, reporter Robert Costa noted that special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attacks had taken a turn.
“Based on our reporting, the special counsel is tightening his investigation around former President Trump when it comes to January 6, now compelling some of his top aides and allies to testify under oath about their private conversations with Trump,” he explained. “That means there’s no privilege, no executive privilege they can cite to try to block any kind of testimony on those issues.”
This has been a losing battle for a number of officials that attempted to assert executive privilege during the House Select Committee’s investigation into the insurrection and the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election. Ultimately, Congress voted to hold a few of those subpoenaed in contempt of Congress and those proceedings are moving forward despite the House changing hands to the GOP.
“We know the special counsel is looking into a possible conspiracy case against Trump and people around him about trying to block the congressional proceedings on January 6,” Costa continued. “We’re going to potentially hear now from Mark Meadows. Robert O’Brien, the former national security adviser, John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence.”
Costa went on to say that witnesses brought to the grand jury are being asked about the kind of “national security levers Trump was asking about in those final days.”
Some of the militia members had said over chats that it was important that they riot so that it would give Trump what he needed to declare the Insurrection Act of 1807 or declare martial law. That would then allow him to deploy the military, seize voting machines, and ultimately allow him to stay in office. Trump had toyed with the idea during the summer of 2020 during the protests of the slaying of George Floyd.
Costa also brought up the document theft case, which is also being investigated by the special counsel. He noted that it’s extremely rarefor a judge to call in a defendant’s lawyer to testify. As legal analysts explained this week, it only happens if there is enough evidence that a crime was committed. It means that a judge believes that’s exactly what happened.
“Evan Corcoran, Trump’s lawyer in this case, [is] now being told to come in, and he did come in for hours on Friday,” Costa said. “And he didn’t just talk about his broad view. He had to share audio files, notes, details about all of his conversations with Trump about how Trump handled those federal requests about classified documents. Think back to the Mar-a-Lago FBI search last summer. Corcoran was pressed about what was Trump doing at that intense time. And that really gives the prosecutors a prism into what really happened.”
Costa later added more details on Twitter about the information he’s gathered.
“Sources directly familiar with witnesses and questions tell me it’s clear Special Counsel is now ‘tightening’ the Jan. 6 probe around Trump and his inner circle, with focus on infamous 12/18/20 Oval [Office meeting], and efforts to push national security, DOJ official,” he tweeted. “Witnesses have been pressed in recent weeks about [Rudy] Giuliani, [Sidney] Powell and others who sought to use levers of government to stop the certification of the election… and sources directly involved believe a case on conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding could be in the works.”
See the segment in the video below or at the link here.
CBS News’ @CostaReports has the latest on a “highly significant” development in the federal investigation of fmr. President Trump and Jan. 6, as Special Counsel Jack Smith begins “tightening his investigation” around Trump and building a “possible conspiracy case.” pic.twitter.com/EJoDhFisdt
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) March 26, 2023
‘Big Shoe Drops’: Bad Day for Trump on Multiple Fronts in Special Counsel’s Grand Jury Probes
Judge Nixes Trump’s ‘Executive Privilege’ Claim, Orders Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, Other Top Aides to Testify as Corcoran Completes Grand Jury Appearance
It’s a bad day behind the scenes for Donald Trump.
First, his own attorney, Evan Corcoran, just past noon on Friday walked out of a federal court building after completing more than three hours of testimony before Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the ex-president’s unlawful retention and refusal to return hundreds of sensitive, classified, and top secret documents.
NOW: Trump attorney Evan Corcoran departs DC federal court house after testifying before a special cousnel grand jury for what appears to have been more than 3 hours. pic.twitter.com/LQN91gKDGo
— Rob Legare (@RobLegare) March 24, 2023
His testimony, compelled by a subpoena, is seen by a former top DOJ official as “the most critical evidence in the case,” and should “allow DOJ to make a charging decision without significant delay.”
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Prosecutors, citing the crime-fraud exception, were able to convince a federal judge that Trump likely committed a crime via his attorneys, enabling them to bypass attorney-client privilege.
Trump had strived to block Corcoran from testifying, but a federal judge and an appeals court, in an extraordinarily quick turnaround – some legal experts saying for reasons likely related to national security – ordered him to testify.
Also Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege and ordered testimony before Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating Trump’s actions related to the January 6 insurrection from eight former top Trump White House aides.
Among them, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller, and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. Also, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, ABC News reports.
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Meadows is a former GOP congressman seen by many as integral to the events of January 6.
“Former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee, along with former top DHS official Ken Cuccinelli, were also included in the order, the sources said,” according to ABC News.
Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman weighed in, saying: “Another really big shoe drops: [Judge] Howell rejects Trump’s executive privilege claim and orders Mark Meadows and others to testify before Jan 6 [grand jury]. Meadows has really been able to stay on the sidelines. No more–even if he takes the 5th, which [would] then force [question] of immunity.”
Image of Donald Trump via Shutterstock
‘Officially on Georgia-Watch’: Legal Expert Says Possible Trump Probe Indictments Could Come at Any Time
Professor of Law Joyce Vance says, “We’re officially on Georgia-watch,” now that a new grand jury has been constituted and could hand down indictments at any time in that state’s investigation into Donald Trump and his allies and their alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Vance, the well-known MSNBC legal contributor, podcaster, and former U.S. Attorney says in her Substack newsletter, “it’s entirely possible that this could be the week to expect the world to turn upside down.”
“The first signal we’ll probably get—you’ll be in a crowded restaurant, or at work, or on a train, or in the gym, and suddenly everyone’s phone will start blowing up all at once,” Vance explains. “Reporters tend to stalk the clerk of court’s office in person and online when they know a big case is close. We’re in that sweet spot, although it’s important to keep in mind that we could remain there for awhile.”
Vance does warn that “it’s not certain that anyone, let alone Donald Trump, will be indicted. But Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, certainly seems to be giving off all the signals that she means business here.”
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Assuming Trump does get indicted, what are the possible charges he might be facing?
“First up, election-related crimes: solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with performance of election duties, interference with primaries and elections, and conspiracy to commit election fraud,” she explains. There could also be more “general crimes,” like “making false statements, improperly influencing witnesses, forgery, and general criminal solicitation.”
It might also get even more serious for Trump.
“Georgia’s state RICO statute could also be charged: RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and originally referred to a federal law passed in 1970 to strengthen the tools and charges available to federal prosecutors for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime—Mafia or other entities devoted to organized, ongoing, serious criminal conduct.”
As Vance points out, while it’s unknown if Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis will choose to indict Trump or anyone, the special grand jury foreperson who made headlines earlier this month made clear they had recommended multiple indictments.
Image: Official White House photo
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