May 19, 2024

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Secret documents seized at Mar-a-Lago | Those close to Trump outline the lines of his defense

Secret documents seized at Mar-a-Lago |  Those close to Trump outline the lines of his defense

(NEW YORK) Personal “notes” or classified documents: Relatives of Donald Trump assured him on Sunday that they were within his rights by carrying bundles of archives as he left the former president’s White House.

Two days before his appearance in federal court in Miami, “he has every right to have classified documents,” one of his lawyers, Alina Hubba, assured Fox News.

“These are hints, he’s entitled to take,” he added, dismissing the idea that his client might plead guilty.

“The President’s ability to classify and restrict access to national security information derives from the Constitution. […] He classified this matter, he could put it anywhere, he could handle it however he wanted,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a close ally, told CNN.

An already weak defense

An argument already made by Donald Trump is undermined in the indictment released Thursday. The former real estate mogul is targeted with 37 counts of taking thousands of documents with him when he left the White House, some of which he kept secret when he was supposed to hand them over to the National Archives, and then refused to return most. Despite requests from the Federal Police (FBI).

So, the indictment reveals that in July 2021, at a golf club he owned in New Jersey, Donald Trump showed four people without a Secret Security clearance an “attack plan” that the Department of Defense had prepared while he was president.

“As the president I could have categorized them […] Now I can’t, but it’s still confidential,” he said in an audio recording cited by the court document.

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And according to the indictment, the classified documents include information on “the defense capabilities of the United States and foreign countries,” “US nuclear programs,” and “the potential consequences of an attack on the United States and its allies.”

“It’s a pretty sweeping allegation. It’s huge,” Bill Barr, Donald Trump’s former attorney general, said on Fox News, now criticizing the former president as one of his allies.

“The idea that the president has absolute power to decree that any document is private is ludicrous,” Barr said.

A divided country

A day after rallies condemned by Donald Trump as a “witch hunt,” his allies redoubled their arguments on the theme.

“They try one thing, and then they try another, and they go after him,” Jim Jordan said, repeating that when the indictment was filed, the case was being prosecuted by the Biden camp.

The former head of state has been specifically targeted with charges of “illegal possession of information related to national security”, “obstruction of justice” and “perjury”.

According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday, 47% of a sample of 910 Americans polled Friday and Saturday think the allegations in the case are “politically motivated,” while 37% do not. But at the same time, 61% of respondents believe that these cases are “very serious” (42%) or “very serious” (19%). Among Republicans, 38% think so.