The air in DC is thick with anticipation … and also smoke. (It’s okay, Fox says soot particles are healthy!)
Almost every hour brings another story about Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations of Donald Trump. Last night, The Independent reported that the Justice Department is ready to present the grand jury with an indictment charging Trump with violating 18 USC § 793, AKA the Espionage Act, for “gathering, transmitting or losing” any “information respecting the national defense.”
Journalist Andrew Feinberg reports:
The use of Section 793, which does not make reference to classified information, is understood to be a strategic decision by prosecutors that has been made to short-circuit Mr Trump’s ability to claim that he used his authority as president to declassify documents he removed from the White House and kept at his Palm Beach, Florida property long after his term expired on 20 January 2021.
The article goes on to say that Trump’s former chief of staff is “understood” to be testifying under a grant of “limited immunity” and will be pleading guilty to “unspecified federal crimes.” Meadows’s attorney George Terwilliger called the story “complete bullshit,” although other outlets have confirmed that Meadows did in fact testify after Trump’s attempt to assert executive privilege and block it was nixed by Judge Beryl Howell.
No other outlet has matched Feinberg’s reporting on Meadows’s plea, but last night Hugo Lowell at The Guardian, followed by everyone else, reported that Trump has received a target letter in the documents investigation.
Meanwhile, things are heating up in Florida, where there is now a second grand jury impaneled in the documents investigation. According to the Washington Post, most of the charges in that case will be filed in federal court in Florida, where the bulk of the potentially obstructive conduct took place. Lowell scooped that Jay Bratt, head of the DOJ’s counterintelligence division, is leading the questioning in Miami, where witnesses have included Trump’s longtime aide Taylor Budowich.
Meanwhile on Truth Social, Trump’s outbursts function as a sort of heat map of the investigation’s progress — although the map is functionally defaced by a Sharpie, since Trump’s default setting is “rant.”
On Wednesday, he claimed, “No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.” This would appear to be a non-denial denial of reporting that his lawyers were told in person Monday that Trump was indeed a target.
Also yesterday Trump posted an unattributed quote, saying “An American Bar Association report in 2022 seemed to agree with Trump’s assertion that ‘guidelines support his contention that presidents have broad authority to formally declassify.’”
That would appear to be a reference to a fact check published by the ABA last year. Trump omitted to mention that the article directly contradicts his theory of declassification via telepathic transubstantiation:
In all cases, however, a formal procedure is required so governmental agencies know with certainty what has been declassified and decisions memorialized. A federal appeals court in a 2020 Freedom of Information Act case, New York Times v. CIA, underscored that point: “Declassification cannot occur unless designated officials follow specified procedures,” the court said.
This morning Trump was back to his usual all-caps screaming about … something?
Wow! That’s going to require some MAGA journalist like John Solomon to apply the string to that board. But while we wait, attorney Tim Parlatore, who quitfired himself from Trump’s legal team last month, says that any indictment in the documents case will be dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct.
We’ll see what happens when the smoke clears.