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The Trump indictment is Not as Simple as Many Believe

The Trump indictment is Not as Simple as Many Believe

In the public square – the court-of-public opinion – there are two narratives.  The first is that Trump is the victim of the politicization and weaponization of law enforcement along partisan lines – and that he is totally innocent of any wrongdoing, much less crimes.  The other narrative is that Trump is guilty as hell on all counts – and is subject to the same laws as anyone else.  Neither of these extreme positions we see being played out in the press is entirely accurate.

Most Americans believe the prosecutorial gangbang on Trump is politically motivated and the counts in the New York and Florida indictments are overcharged based on prosecutorial abuse.  Simultaneously, most Americans believe that Trump has committed crimes and should be held accountable.  Two things can be true at the same time.

The guilty as hell argument is based on a dubious false premise that America operates under a consistent and firm rule-of-law.  That is a fairytale.  We have a foundation of laws – but they are enforced or not enforced by the arbitrary decisions of police, prosecutors, and judges.

Both narratives are public relations campaigns to win political support from We the People.  They represent two sides of the evergreen hyperbolic and hypocritical propaganda wars between the political parties and philosophic factions.

We now have a 37-count indictment against Trump brought by Special Council Jack Smith, with an additional indictment against his valet Walt Nauta.  While we do not yet know how the various cases will turn out – whether Trump will be found guilty or not — we can objectively evaluate the cases based on merits, laws, and traditions.  Each plays a role.  

Without doubt, the most complex case is the issue of the White House documents – partly because some of the accusations are founded on untested constitutional issues.  Trump has been charged with seven identical crimes regarding possession, according to the indictment – with the same crimes being charged 31 times.  Ergo, 37 counts.

Each charge presents a unique set of circumstances in terms of the law and the constitutional prerogatives of a President.  Those issues have never before been subjected to a criminal indictment in a court-of-law — or constitutionally determined by the Supreme Court.  

So, let us take a look at each of those charges – to which I will offer my own opinion and evaluation. The purpose of my analysis is not to serve as the jury to determine outcomes – whether Trump is guilty or not — but to objectively analyze the arguments on both sides – and the laws that may or may not apply.

  1. Willful retention of national defense information.  This is the charge that was repeated 31 times based on the specific number of such documents in Trump’s possession.  

This is obviously very controversial.  The debate rages as to whether Trump has the right to possess these documents – and, tangentially, whether he had declassified them.  None of that is clear based on laws and the Constitution.  Clarifying the issues would take congressional action and Supreme Court decisions – which may be the ultimate result of the court case regardless of the outcome.

On the issue of possessing the documents, the laws are not clear, or they are conflicting – subject to widely differing interpretations by legal and constitutional scholars.  

Presidents may take personal documents and items home after leaving office – but some argue that a later Supreme Court decision vis a vis the Presidential Records Act establishes that the President is the sole determinator of what is personal and what is official government business.  Former Attorney General William Barr says it would be ridiculous for a President to consider a Defense Department war plan as personal – but that may not be how the Supreme Court left it.  Trump’s lawyers can argue that Trump believed he was within his legal rights – ergo, no criminal intent.  No criminal intent, no crime.

The issue of declassification wallows in a similar constitutional ambiguity.  According to the Constitution, the President is the sole determinator of what gets classified and what get declassified – even if documents were classified by other officials in the Executive Branch.  There is no prescribed “process” in the Constitution – just as a President can pardon anyone at any time for any reason.  Classification and pardons are not like presidential appointments or treaties that are subject to the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

Both the power to pardon and to declassify have traditional bureaucratic procedures that a President can follow.  Yes, there are established procedures – but no, a President is not required to follow them.  The Constitutional powers of the President trumps laws or procedural rules established for convenience.

While Trump’s claim that the documents were all declassified by his mental decision – or by the fact that the President removed them from a classified environment – may seem irrational, but there is some constitutional wiggle room in Trump’s contention.  Whatever a jury decides in terms of possession and declassification, I suspect the case will be left to the Supreme Court to determine if Trump’s powers as President trump the procedures and the indictment.  

If Trump’s lawyers can convince a jury that he was under the impression that he had a legal right to the documents – based on the Presidential Records Act, the subsequent Supreme Court decision, and the wording of the Constitution – they can undermine the prosecution’s “intent” argument.  If Trump believed his actions were legal, he would have won on the “intent” issue.  No intent to commit a crime, no crime.  At least, that is the defense point-pf-view.

That is the legal conundrum regarding the possession and classification of the documents Trump took from the White House.  Those are the unanswered questions that will need to be addressed in the trial – and ultimately by the Supreme Court.

The political reality

Apart from the complex technical legal issues, there is a political reality.  What if Trump’s possession and declassification was deemed to be legal under current constitutional interpretation?  That does not mean that his actions were not reckless and an endangerment to national security and the public interest.  Just because a President can pardon even the most heinous federal criminal – a convicted terrorist, for example – does not mean it is a responsible or correct course of action.

The courts can only deal with the constitutionality and legality of Trump’s actions – not the wisdom or the harm that may occur if he was within his rights and powers.  The latter is up to the political process.  It is up to the judgment of the voters.  Even if Trump is exonerated on the possession charge in a court-of-law, it does not mean he should be entrusted with the powers of the presidency again in the future.

What about the other six indictments?  These may actually pose a greater problem for Trump than the possession and classification charge.  In one form or another, they all relate to an obstruction of justice – to which Trump has no constitutional protection.

False statements and representations: In this count, Trump is accused of having one of his attorneys make a false statement to the FBI in early June regarding the results of the search at Mar-a-Lago.

The next five charges deal with the actions of Trump and Nauta.  In a nutshell, they cover withholding documents from investigators and the grand jury and submitting a false certification.  

Conspiracy to obstruct justice: Trump and Nauta are accused of conspiring to conceal the documents from the grand jury.

Withholding a document or a record: Trump and Nauta are accused of misleading an attorney by moving and concealing the documents so the grand jury would not see them.

Corruptly concealing a document or record: This is a second swipe at the previous charge.  It involves hiding records from the attorney.

Concealing a document in a federal investigation: This is a third concealing charge – this time from the FBI and causing the production of a false certification.

Scheme to conceal: Yet another concealing charge.

Interestingly, the indictment does not refer to the Presidential Records Act or the subsequent Supreme Court decision.  It does not accuse Trump of lying to investigators, but merely misleading his attorneys.  That is not the case with Nauta.

False statements and representations: In this charge, Smith accuses Nauta of giving false statements to FBI investigators during a voluntary appearance in May.

Make no mistake about it.  Trump is facing some very serious charges in this indictment – and there is talk of yet another document-related indictment in New Jersey.  And … there is still the indictment for election finance fraud in Washington, an expected Georgia indictment for vote fraud in that state; and the January 6th investigation by Smith.  The civil defamation case may be re-opened based on post-verdict public comments Trump made about E. Jean Carroll.

Of course, Democrats and their media allies are reporting with certainty that Trump is guilty of every accusation and charge, but the documents case in Florida may not be the slam dunk that most politicians and pundits seem to think.  

In a criminal case, it only takes one juror – and reasonable doubt — to prevent a guilty verdict.  With most Americans believing that the prosecutions of Trump are politically motivated – and with this trial being held in Florida – it is not unreasonable to believe that there will not be Trump supporters among the jurors.

Unfortunately, there seems to be one element of Trump’s legal problems – and the political feuding and the resulting public consternation — that we can address with certainty.  It will be on the front burner of the national news for the next two years – and counting.  This movie is still in the opening credits.

How will Trump manage all his legal problems while running for President?  And what happens if Trump is found not guilty?  More about that in a future commentary.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

38 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    Nice summary albeit slanting to the right a little via political partisanship and selective connotative adjectives.

    You left out the nuclear secrets document(s) which DO NOT fall under the Presidential “immaculate declassification” procedure and so are outside of much of the “process” you say will be forefront in the case. No issue on Presidential privilege there, he can not declassify the nuclear stuff, period. However, hanging him on one document alone would be less than satisfying providing him the opportunity to say “witch hunt, they only got me once.”

    You also left out the whole truth about declassification. You are right about a flakey process, argument-able, but one would think jurors would believe some sort of process should exist. And since Trump never admitted having said documents, obviously he never closed the process by telling ANYONE of note that they had been declassified. That MIGHT stick. Also, Smith will roll the tape where, starting in 2016, Don pretty much outlines how it SHOULD happen as he described Hillary’s misuse of the process that he claimed to know perfectly, better than anyone, with his giant brain. So, Don actually describes the process required that he now says does not apply to him at this point.

    However, it really does not matter: what you also left out was that the espionage law does not apply to classifications. Classification does not matter, national security and defense does and that will be based on the information as viewed by the jury. However, that’s where it gets interesting in that EVERY case as precedent have always been classified only. So, the law says it does not matter, but there is no precedent yet for doing a declassified case. Thus, Trump’s process does not matter, just the concept of applying the law, for the first time, to declassified MIGHT. Personally, Trump better have GREAT lawyers to pull that one off and, on all of this, getting the Supremes’ to pick it up might turn out to be a stretch. They might just duck instead. They have before, on many a Trumpism.

    I think that’s the option Team Trump will approach. I think the “immaculate declassification” is a Republican media ploy but courtroom red herring.

    This is all fun but still misses the real point: WTF did he think he was doing? He does not read. I don’t think he was selling, IMO. He can get copies of anything he wants I think for his library. Why did he go full-hoarder on this shit. Just to act cool for visitors by showing them maps and stuff? Does he not know it’s all digitized? Can anyone come up with a rational reason for him to take out three rooms with boxes of this crap? And why he seems to know the boxes, used to ask for different ones depending on Airforce1 flight plan? I mean this seems like some really weird ju ju for a guy never seen reading. Ever. No email. No PC. I don’t even know how he twitters?

    I mean, anyone, all politics aside, what the hell do we think was going on here, and why? Who wants a hundred boxes of paper? Boxes in my bathroom, boxes in my pool room, boxes on my stage, papers all over my office, even boxes in Melania’s closet —— what the heck is going on here?

    I like the “beautiful minds” branding by his staff. That’s works……..

    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Why do you think Trump didn’t “sell” access to the documents? He showed one document and said “see, this one is classified” to some writers and a publisher. He KNEW the document was still classified. He wouldn’t be talking to writers unless he can get something out of it – Trump does nothing for free. Also, he got a BILLION dollar payday from the Saudis for hosting a golf tournament – what’s that, about a million dollars an hour? And they visited Mar-a-Lago – want to bet they had a business meeting in the ballroom? Or at least excused themselves to Trump’s “reading room” (i.e. bathroom), the one with the copier in it? Not to mention the $2B that Jared got for some unspecified business deal.

      Beautiful Mind? Far from it. Just an employee’s shorthand for “the guy’s nuts!”. Trump’s mind is ugly, he’s a narcissistic psychopathHe doesn’t care one whit about national security or anyone not named Donald Trump. The one thing he constantly thinks of is how to make more money.

      Happy Juneteenth, Joe Gilbertson! Congrats – you get to share your birthday with a National Holiday!

      • larry Horist

        Joseph S Bruder … You are ranting — and doing a lot of assuming, spinning and speculating without much evidence. You visceral hatred of Trump, Republicans and conservatives is coming through loud and clear. I am no fan of Trump, but I do not make up stuff. There is no evidence at all that he got $1 billion from the Saudis in conjunction with LIV golf. He apparently got a much smaller amount of money from hosting LIV golf at one of his golf courses. The Trump Organization has real estate interest in Saudi Arabia — but that is strictly business. If you hate Trump for doing business with the Saudis, you will have to hate a LOT of corporate America — not to mention President Biden who fist bumped the Crown Prince in the hope of getting more oil. And what is the unspecified deal Jared Kushner got? In terms of the meeting, we do not know if Trump talked about the document … waved it in front of people … or did he let them read it or copy it. We do not know … and neither do you. We will have to way for the court case to find out. In inferences about what happened when Saudis visited Mar-a-Lago is scurrilous speculation.

    • Tom

      Some very good points Frank. For what it is worth, here are my comments:

      1) I totally agree on the nuclear documents. This one could be a sticky wicket for Trump.

      2) People such as me who have worked with classified documents up to and including “Secret” do not think the process is flakey at all. We understand it quite well. There was a very well defined process for classification of the naval electronic systems plans that I worked on. What may be making it flakey is simply that we have never had a POTUS that thrived on pushing boundaries and seeing what he can get away with while all the time trying to appear as a messiah for the people, and taking the beating for them. So what I am saying is that I am sure there is a firm process in place, but the designers of the process never envisioned a Trump at the helm. Trump, again his personality, is what is making it flakey.

      3) I agree, and hope you are right that the jury sees that he did know the process and was able to describe it years ago. I hope the jury will hold him accountable to his comments regarding Hillary. I hope they play all of the tapes. Most people will conclude that his worst enemy is his mouth. Again, back to Book of James, Chapter 3, that control of the tongue is the hardest thing of all.

      4) Getting the SCOTUS to decide the “declassified issue” I think is the wrong place. My bet is the “Supremes” kick it back to Congress to provide better definition in the law, if there is any wiggle room for them to turn the case down. Personally, I think it would be good of them to take the case. I do not think Trump should be too overconfident that his picks will come through for him. They no longer have to care, they have jobs for life. My hope is that they would see it the way of”what would happen to a guy like Tom if he did this after being briefed about the severity of classification mishandling?”

      5) What was he doing? If you listen to Barr this past Sunday and on other occasions I think he nails it. Barr said “Because he thinks he can get away with it.” Trump, as finally said by Barr but said by Tom for the past year and more, finally said Trump is a narcissist! Read up on the personality of a narcissist. A quick few facts about narcissistic personalities” 1) They think they are smarter and better than anyone else; 2) They perceive themselves as having nobody that can match them or beat them. 3) They cannot take “no” for an answer when their mind says “yes” – so “No Mr. President, you cannot have these documents.” would inflame them and set the challenge. Saying “no” to a narcissist says to them that there is something they cannot do, but they believe they can do anything and whatever they want as long as it benefits their reality. 4) They thrive on conflict, its all about the game and winning. 5) They always build their own reality which supports their belief that they are better than anyone else. 6) They destroy relationships and play relationships against each other for their benefit because it is an exciting game to them. 7) They are so drunk on their own skills to manipulate others that they perceive they can never be caught. 8) They psychologically attach hard to their trophies and always take some, and never want to give them up. 9) They love attention and will do anything fore it. So you see, think about this when you ask, “Why would anyone do this?” Answer, because he is a flaming narcissist who thinks he can, he thinks he will not be caught, he thrives on conflict, and he stuffs the boxes around the house so everywhere he is he can view his trophies and how great he is to have them.

      And by the way, most narcissists never get any psychological help because they do not think they are the problem. They think other people are the problem. It is estimated based on narcissist that do go for counseling that the actual number of narcissists in the USA may be as high as 30 million. Also, narcissism is not digital on/off, it is analog like the volume indicator on your cell phone or stereo. Trump is definitely between a 7-10 on the volume scale. Narcissists often have abusive backgrounds and demeaning childhoods, which creates the coping tool to survive their family situation. And that coping tool is narcissism. The difference is Trump has honed this tool for many years and is no longer being cruel to employees. He is now facing those that can punish him. So the game is a’foot!!! He gives the impression of being ;persecuted, but the reality is that he enjoys it! It’s attention! It’s fund raising! It’s being a messiah and dying for the little people!! It is sheer and utter glory for Trump!

      • frank stetson

        2. What Larry speaks to, I as well, is that while you may have had a spiffy process, it’s not Constitutional, and when you look up the process, even the one there seems to have the caveat “or whatever you want….” That’s one reason I think Smith took the Espionage Act route, more clarity to the cause.

        4. agree, they may not want to touch any of this.

        5. Not sure narcissism really answers why a guy who does not read want paper. Although he does believe his is God’s gift to man. Now he’s basically saying they just put anything not nailed down into boxes. Sounds like a kid leaving his dorm after partying too much….. This one just seems so weird: “hey, stormy, wanna see my top secret……” Just a weird guy. Even FOX starting to say: bwhaaaaat is he thinking? I mean the guy looked at the interviewer and told them how he won the election. In June of 2023, he is claiming on national TV, I did not lose that election. He has secret (I don’t care classified) documents with our nuclear plans in his bathroom. He is the leader of the Republican Party. And he wants the Presidency, the nuclear codes, the military, DOJ/FBI/NSA/CIA all under his control again so he can finish what he started on 1/6/2021.

        And they still love him, believe this horseshit, and want him back. That’s a bigger issue than Don’s delusions.

        As I have said in the past, when the money supply slips, when the little people stop sending their BUD money in, he will disappear faster than a Trans-on-the-can moment. Even his kids are riding off into the sunset not wanting further tarnish from Dad-the-grifter. It’s all about the money. And when his bank drops him, it will be the sound of the Fat Lady you hear.

  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson … As far as I know, the power to declassify is absolute. Where do you see a ban on declassifying nuclear secrets? While it makes sense to have a transparent process for declassification (and pardons), I do not see where it is a necessity constitutionally. A President does not have to follow any procedure to exercise constitutional powers. Neither the Congress or the bureaucrats can impose a process to limit presidential powers. Any procedure exists only because a President is willing to create one — or abide by one. If Trump says now that he considered the documents he took from the White House declassified, there is an argument to be made. A President is not obligated to inform anyone of his decision to declassify. It is a knotty constitutional question that needs the Supreme Court to resolve. Congress will have to pass some procedure laws and the Court will have to decide if they are constitutional or not.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      I can say that definitively. The President is the ultimate classifying authority, it is his information to dispose of as he sees fit.

      • frank stetson

        see below joe, and read up on espionage law; classification should not matter; the information against national security should.

      • Tom

        Actually Joe, Please see the Federal Code of Regulations, Section 1045 titled “Nuclear Classification and Declassification”, specifically sections 1045.14, 1045.15, and most importantly, 1045.16 at this link *https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2018-title10-vol4/xml/CFR-2018-title10-vol4-part1045.xml#seqnum1045.13* which I am providing for your convenience. The Director of Classification shall classify information as RD and the Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer MUST be involved in the declassifying, not even Trump can declassify. I believe from what I have heard that some of the documents in question are definitely RD (Restricted Domain) would fall under section 1045-16(a).

      • Joseph S. Bruder

        Until he is no longer President. Then he has to follow the law just like everyone else. Period.

        • frank stetson

          JSB: Like you’re going to be able to prove he did the “immaculate declassification” just before he left office, or a moment after? My goodness, you can’t get him to admit anything truthfully, good luck with pinning that timing down…..

    • frank stetson

      Larry,
      for nuclear: *https://www.reuters.com/world/us/trump-lacked-power-declassify-secret-nuclear-arms-document-experts-say-2023-06-18/#:~:text=While%20the%20president%20can%20request,properly%20secured%20space%2C%20said%20Aftergood.*

      I agree to your description of the “non-process” process BUT it probably will not matter. The espionage law does not require classification; although all precedents are based on classified —– so they can argue that, but pretty sure the nod goes to Smith and the espionage law not requiring classified documents. Ask yourself this: given the Trump defense telegraphing, do you really think Smith would leave himself uncovered?

      As to the process: while I agree that there is no Constitutional process, there are plenty of processes out there and somehow, the “immaculate declassification” will fall on it’s face due primarily, but not exclusively, that you have to tell someone with power to notify all stakeholders, that the information is declassified. You may not need to inform that you will declassify, I am pretty sure most will agree that you need to inform, after the fact, in a timely manner that it is declassified.

      The danger of not doing so is immense. Imagine a doc that highlights our asset in a foreign land. Trump declassifies, now info may be public and this asset may never be told??? That’s just awful, legal or not.

      BUT AGAIN, according to the espionage law, it should not matter.

      And yes, yes, yes, post Trump and all of these cases, freaking laws will be passed left and right to stop future Presidents from fucking with us in this manner because this guy has no moral boundaries.

      But on the espionage law, IF the documents contain information that fits the definitions in national security — he’s toast. And we may never know even what the jury knows and the jury may never know the exact contents of the documents. Like “adversarial country 1 battle plans for military outfit A” as they might not have the clearance to see the exact text. Should be fun for all of us.

      BUT AGAIN —- classification argument should not matter according to the law. And that’s before Trump’s numerous self-incriminations too which should not matter either.s

      AUGUST 14TH is show time!!!!! (until Trump delays)

      • larry Horist

        Frank Stetson … You seem to be arguing my original analysis. Trump MIGHT win on declassification, but possession is a different issue. Using the espionage law may be a bridge too far, however. It is interesting that Smith ignored the Presidential Records Act which seems more relevant. But Smith has a history of overcharging and misusing laws. Have to see if he did it again.

        • frank stetson

          I am really not sure what you are saying about might win on declassification in that I said I don’t think it will come into play, but if it does, I didn’t indicate I thought it was a win on auto-pilot.

          Espionage Act might not work but it IS the charge in the indictment, and as such, classification should not be a main issue except for precedent, not for the law as written; perhaps precedent of only trying these cases as classified might, but I think Smith will do all just to avoid the red herring aspect of that strange grey-area-of-law within Presidential powers. This is the Smith approach just to avoid that quagmire.

          The PRA has no teeth, by law and by precedent. I think Smith is a very serious fellow who is ready to try this case as the rapid first court date indicates. GAME ON! It’s August now but Team Trump is about to start throwing the delays. Sure won’t be winter.

        • Tom

          Larry, I am not so sure that Smith ignored the Presidential Records Act. As Barr said on an interview this weerkend, “The Presidential Record Act” was created to stop such an event, not justify presidents taking records.” So based on what Barr said, I am not sure why he would bother addressing it.

    • Tom

      Larry, I believe Frank to be correct. Please see the Federal Code of Regulations, Section 1045 titled “Nuclear Classification and Declassification”, specifically sections 1045.14, 1045.15, and most importantly, 1045.16 at this link *https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2018-title10-vol4/xml/CFR-2018-title10-vol4-part1045.xml#seqnum1045.13* which I am providing for your convenience. The Director of Classification shall classify information as RD and the Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer MUST be involved in t he declassifying. I believe from what I have heard that some of the documents in question are definitely RD (Restricted Domain) would fall under section 1045-16(a).

      This is the process I told you I had to be compliant with when I worked with these documents. Most of the time, working on these documents is in a secure facility. The knowledge in these documents is compartmentalized so that what I work on and what you work on are not known to the both of us. We are sworn not to talk about what we work on. If we do and we are caught, we will be immediately unemployed and could face charges that may result in up to 10 years imprisonment and up to around a $250,000 fine. We all got briefed every year on these procedures and signed that we understood the procedures and the gravity of violating them I tried one time to get a document declassified and it was a nightmare that was not worth it.

      Frank may feel the process is flakey (his words) but it is not .What makes it look flakey may be Trump’s personality. As you can see, the process is well documented.

      • frank stetson

        Tom, the Presidential process is flakey, not the nuclear =-= it is spot on. YOURS, probably is what the Navy adopted but codified there, not at the President’s Executive Office.

        • Tom

          Yes you are probably correct Frank.

      • larry Horist

        Tom … All the regs and procedures you cite apply to everyone BUT the President. Most constitutional scholars say the power to declassify is unrestricted for the President. Trump probably should have left a post-it note on the computer saying “Everything I took to Mar-a-Lago is declassified. That would have done it.

        • Tom

          Yeah this seems like a strange situation because none of the documents I cite state that the POTUS is exempt. And declassifying records affects many departments. Seems like all previous presidents just followed the people who knew the documents and effects of taking home nuclear war plans for bathroom reading?

          • frank stetson

            How about the “it’s simple stupid” approach…..

            The President can be in situations where immediate declassification is needed to expeditiously conduct the nation’s business. Rather than encumber the President with waiting for pencil-pushers to clear the red tape, we just allowed him to declassify on the fly and them clean it all up later. Clean it all up as in inform the relevant stakeholders to mark all copies as declassified. Case closed, system works.

            Now if Presidents, etc. want more process, feel free, but needs the elements of 1)immediacy and 2) closure.

            Trump’s process has none of that. Instead of immediacy he has universality. Instead of closure, he has secrecy.

            Like many things Trump, even if legal, it sure ain’t right, it does not fit the original purpose and is just an abortion of the process to suit his personal needs to stay our of jail.

            From what I understand from my research, there is a process, it’s loose, and it is not law. More like guidelines. The nuclear stuff is a strict process and is regulation, if not law. If this was important, I believe Trump could not declassify in this manner, at least, not unless he closed the process and informed relevant stakeholders as to the change in classified status.

            However, as I keep saying, the indictment is for criminality over the Espionage Act and classification level does not matter to the law there, except that all precedents have been set on classified documents. So the classification level does not matter to the law, but the precedents all depend on classified cases. I am pretty sure Smith is ready to navigate those waters. And he has the law on his side, just no precedents. Of course, this case will break many precedents before conclusion.

          • Tom

            Yeah, Trump is being a ground breaker again!

  3. Joseph S. Bruder

    Larry: You claim there are two evenly balanced viewpoints on the Trump documents case, but by the second paragraph you are already exposing your bias: “Most Americans believe the prosecutorial gangbang on Trump…” You like to pretend that you’re not part of the MAGA crowd, and that you’re being fair and even handed in your writing, but you just can’t keep from exposing your bias toward Trump. All through your article, you are grasping at straws to defend him against overwhelming evidence.

    ” We have a foundation of laws – but they are enforced or not enforced by the arbitrary decisions of police, prosecutors, and judges.” Yes, officials have some discretion, because the law is not always black and white, and there can be extenuating circumstances. However, the law is pretty clear here. Trump was at the time NOT President. He had an opportunity to return the documents and chose to lie to investigators. He kept the documents in insecure and even public places. And Trump admitted on tape that at least one of the documents was still classified, as he was showing it to people without clearances to see it. Trump has gotten kid-glove treatment, when he deserves to be locked away until trial – like anyone else who has mishandled classified documents. In fact, Trump himself increased penalties on classified documents cases and stated anyone caught mishandling documents should be severely punished. Oh, did he mean “that is, for everyone except ME”?

    Just because Trump is “under the impression that he had a legal right to the documents” does not mean he can take them. I might believe that the bank has unjustly charged me for too much interest or too many extra charges, but that doesn’t mean I can walk into a bank and rob it.

    Trump has stated “Those papers are mine!” – it’s not the defense he hopes it is. It’s a pretty clear admission that he took them.

    It only takes one juror to acquit Trump, but chances of any juror like that getting into the jury pool are pretty slim, and anyone who’s left is unlikely to vote against every charge. All it takes is one or two charges to stick for Trump to spend his last days in prison, where he belongs.

  4. frank stetson

    JSB: I am just guessing that if he was selling, he would be a bit more cautious; why not copy them all, send the originals to the archive and now you can sell without the archive over your head. But I also said I just don’t get it, beyond bat-shit-crazy, and that may be true, it just does not make sense. And then you seem to dither.

    The journalists didn’t pay, he didn’t offer, they didn’t even publish, still does not make sense. Classified/declassified, sure he knows, I said that, he knows back to lock-her-up Hillary he knows. Still does not add logic to this even if he could declassify. Still bat shit crazy,. Saudi money, him, jared — sure, creepy, but why sell documents if you can get billions and why would the Saudis want them, they don’t care who we are invading….

    so beyond the premise he’s just bat-shit-crazy, old-timers has caught him now, don’t think we’ve discovered a more rational reason.

    Good old Queeg: “Ahh, but the strawberries that’s… that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers…” It’s Trump’s strawberries.

    Anyone got a rationale reason or is BAT SHIT CRAZY the best you Republicans can do, beyond, it’s none of your business what he does,……

    • Joseph S. Bruder

      Trump has never denied wrong doing – he doubles down and admits to everything publicly, assuming that he will be supported. And he doesn’t consider anything HE does is wrong – it’s always “perfect”. I don’t think he pays much attention to hiding his actions. He got $1B from the Saudis – which looks a lot like a bribe or selling something, but he doesn’t care. He figures if he does it in the open, and it benefits himself, it must be OK.

  5. Americafirst

    Frank Stetson. Aug. 14 happens to be my birthdate. That’s exciting. I notice that you are back again. I do not see you on any other websites making me believe which is obvious that you are trying to oust Larry Hoist from Hoist own website and take it over for yourself. Shame on you. Although we all have a right to make replies to any comment section, you just have to take over all the comments on this site. You appear to slam all people that do make comments, giving their own nuances, emotion and thoughts You claim they are all wrong. Shame on you, Mr. know it all. I suggested to you before to delve into research and do the proper investigation of anything you mutter on here. You have not done that. There are videos out there from the Military proving that Donald J. Trump is the Commander in Chief and has been all along. The Military reinaugurated him on January 20, 2020. He is also still the POTUS per the Military. The Military is the absolute law of the land, over all Federal or common law judicial systems. Read the Law of War Manual to find out the truthful laws and how they stand in America. Most people think the Supreme Court is the final law in America. It is not. The Hague is even over our Supreme Court and even they cannot overrule our Military Law. Trump is still POTUS, too. Joe Biden is dead. HE was executed in January of 2023. The Military tribunals websites prove that. There are four actors playing Biden at different times. Past photos of Joe Bidens’ face do not match up with photos of Joe Biden of today. Those four actors may be in acts of treason playing Biden, or they may be White Hat plants to help take down the Deep State, which I am beginning to feel that you are part of the Deep State with the rhetoric you so diligently plaster on this site. You refuse to do the true homework. You have an uncanny need to destroy anyone that goes against what you think. You are a very nasty man, if you are a man-playing a man so you can’t be discovered as to whom you really are. I have taken a chapter from your playbook and given you back what you have given others and myself. IT’s okay if you do not believe what I have told you, but you damned well better get the true information or you just may find your own self in a lot of hot water. Larry doesn’t like Trump, but at least he is honest with his answers and has good things to say on or for both sides of the scale. You do not. Your hate is abnormal. You need help. Please get it or you will explode. Nothing you put out for all of us to read will change our already made-up minds. It just makes all of us distrust you immensely. We see you for whom you really are. I will not stop replying to your sick misinformation and disinformation. I will be a bane on your back. You sowed the seeds and made them grow! Now reap what you sowed!

    • Tom

      Actually I appreciate Frank and Larry’s comments. We all put emotion into our writings because we are passionate. By viewing Larry and Frank, an independent like me gets to see both sides of an issue. I agree and disagree with both of them, but we are always respectful. As an Independent, I like hearing both of their views because it helps me view where center might be. We Independents like things that work well, do the greatest amount of good with the least amount of harm, and are realistic and actionable. Now, when I read comments such as the one you posted, I see the passion and the anger. As an Independent, I move away from such comments because they are so extreme while most of us are centrists. We do not like anger. We like moderation and peace. We are also the largest voting block, and right now we are not in Trump’s corner for two reasons: 1) We think he lost the election fair and square; 2) Because personalities like yours are in his corner. Trump is the reason Trump lost. We Independents are the ones who walked away from him and allowed him to lose his own re-election. And when we see comments like yours, we say, “God Never Again Trump!” We are GNATs. We bug Trump and his MAGA disciples. So when do you think you’ll be heading back to Earth?

  6. Darren

    Gold does not Tarnish.
    I am still voting TRUMP!

    • frank stetson

      Darren,
      You got the tarnish part down pat. Every time I see Biden sitting on the Trump golden chairs backup up by the golden drapes (think they are FDR’s but put up by Trump), I just want to puke. Get the gold out of the White House now. (joe is not about the optics, never has been).

      I am glad for an overcrowded Republican primary and perhaps Trump is our best chance, at least for the popular vote where we beat him twice so far, not to mention taking all the power out of the midterm Red Wave. Would rather him than DeSantis.

  7. frank stetson

    Tom, the Presidential process is flakey, not the nuclear =-= it is spot on. YOURS, probably is what the Navy adopted but codified there, not at the President’s Executive Office.

    did you try airnow.gov —- we be 40 and smelling sweet today!!!

    I remember the sunsets when living on the shores of Lake Erie as being number 1 or 2 sunset locations in America. We simply called it Cleveland…..

    • Tom

      Honestly Frank, I seemed to see a bit of haze when I looked in the distance but it never bothered me. My neighbor has a breathing problem and he had to stay in his house for a day. We got 1.5 inches of rain yesterday and another 1.5 coming today so the air is getting a good washing! My garden is growing like crazy! Can’t wait for the fresh veggies to start ripening on the vine just before I pick them for my salad!

      I never did the beach in Lake Erie but spent time on the shores of Lake Michigan. Love those great lakes! I was up there for Navy schools. In between schools I was assigned as the radio/electronics guy on a old wooden WWII style PT boat to chase drug runners. No torpedo on board but the tubes were still there. Ahhhh those were the days!!! I loved cruising the lakes on those boats! I saw many great sunsets and many Navy Waves in their two piecers playing volleyball. That and a tranless can of Bud was the ticket to a great weekend!

  8. frank stetson

    And yet Rolling Rock can never get a break.

    Michigan is cold, Erie is shallowest lake so warmer. Does have a bit of a current issue towards the Northeast end….. I was there in the 70’s when it died, might have been one of the last swimmers on a beautiful Canadian sand beach that rivals the Carolinas. But, as I show people in my bathroom, here’s the Lake Erie action, as I flush the toiler…. A few years later, it was OK again, Ontario not so good, and just don’t touch the bottom :>) While Michigan may rule the storms, Erie’s depth can raise a few strange ones itself. But the Cleveland mills put up a dust that gave it sunsets rivaling the Key’s in FL.

    I just thought you would love the ap: not to mention shows that govt. can do swell things. First decent govt. website I have seen, seems to be a partnership of some kind. Love you can see the various fires burning about you. Between that and my special beta-snowfall tracker, I’m better prepared for global warming. Don’t think you can get the beta snow tracker, I love it since most accurate I found, will update every few hours for the bad ones, and does ice tracking, a must in the NE now.

    • Tom

      Never been in Lake Erie or Ontario. I am not much of a lake swimmer. I prefer heated pools with bikinis. But I did like the Nylon Pool in Tobago and some of the other Caribbean islands. Yes I thought the app was interesting! Well where I live we do not need beta snowfall trackers. We do not get many snow falls. None this past winter, only one inch the winter before. We have not had a good snow fall since around 2000 or 2001, I forget. Our worst winter weather occurs between 1/20 and 2/20. We can get a whopper once and a while and I do not mean Burger King. Heavy snow comes when we get storms moving from the south mix with frigid air from the Ohio Valley. Last one gave us 20 inches. Does the beta snow tracker also track hurricanes? I could use a good hurricane tracking app.

  9. frank stetson

    Tom, I keep asking you to get checked out for repressed memories. Perhaps like when you were a freshman and senior assman,, sorry, I meant senior classman Freddy took you in the darkroom to him him develop some special photos…….. Not really, but maybe something like that. Because I think you slipped again when you said: ” I prefer heated pools with bikinis.” I bet you do, fella. Alrighty then :>)

  10. Frank stetson

    Is Trump’s new Bedminster audio tape compelling that he has these documents everywhere, knew their importance, knew they were classified, knew he had not declassified them, and, in his own word,s

    Is guilty as hell.

    When you’re famous, they let you grab rm by the pussy.

    It was our battle plans against Iran. Guess they know for sure now. V

    Wonder if they will storm and search Bedminster and anywhere else he lived.

    • Frank stetson

      And by storm and search, I mean foreign agents looking for low hanging secret information.

  11. Tony L Bell

    Well again the democrats in typical fashion have painted themselves with the broad brush of hypocrisy and lack of ethics.

    With the charging of Trump and the ignoring of Biden’s it has been clearly show that there is a flawed leader in the DOJ.

    They may not notice or care, but we the people surely do.

  12. frank stetson

    Tony, if you can’t see that what twice-impeached, adjudicated sex-abuser-defamation artist Trump did is wrong and potentially detrimental to our National Security, I feel for you. Document theft, Georgia vote cheat attempt, NY business fraud, and soooooon —-> the 1/6 connection starting with the fake elector insurrection attempt. With more coming from 1/6. This is looking bad, getting worse, and every time he opens his big fat lying mouth, he puts his foot in it and admits more guilt, not on the record but in the public discourse. Folks like you continue to fund this fraudster. He will be on trial at the EOY and he will be the top witness against himself. Can’t wait for that cross.

    The latest is how the man whipped it out, Top Secret Plan documentation for invasion of Iran that is, in New Jersey, not Mar A Loser, to folks without security clearance just to make a point. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t raid Bedminster next and I hope NJ does it; we still have that Atlantic City ax to grind.

    But again, if you don’t have any issues with what he has done wrong, that’s just sad.

    Plus, and I do it too, the fact that Biden has issues has nothing to do with what the Don done. You can’t excuse Trump because Biden is worse. That’s whatttaaboutism defined, and a bad example at that. For what Don done, he should be done for any in service to office in the land. The only question is where does the plea end up, if he takes it to court, he is toast (as Bill Barr says). My guess is he’s looking for the “bundle” and that’s why he’s trying to move State cases to the Federal Courts and combining all for one sweet deal, his deal of a lifetime — no jailtime. I am betting he pleads out with no admission of guily, but no run for office either. I’m good with that as an outcome; I don’t need Trump in jail, that just lowers the office lower than he has already done by himself. But I do desire to have him off the political stage, I just can’t imagine what he would do IF he has the power for revenge and retribution. Actually, he has already told us and it’s not good for me and my kind, not good at all.