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WORLD NEWS | As Mar-a-Lago criminal case advances, Trump’s penchant for talking could be problematic


Streaks of light seen in California. (Image source: video capture)

WASHINGTON, June 21 (AP) Criminal defendants are generally advised to refrain from commenting on pending charges against them. But Donald Trump, the former president and current White House hopeful, is no ordinary defendant.

In his first televised interview since he was arraigned on federal charges last week, the former president admitted he held off on turning over boxes of documents despite being asked to, tying his case to an investigation of classified documents into other politicians made factually incorrect comparisons and claimed that he did not actually have the Pentagon attack plan that the indictment said he had bragged about to others.

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These comments—like any that a defendant makes about an ongoing case—could complicate the work of his attorneys, potentially preclude the defense they would otherwise have made, or alternately include them in certain arguments to align with the client’s proposition. As the case progresses, the interview could give the Justice Department insight into Trump’s state of mind in a convincing and acceptable manner, allowing prosecutors to pre-empt attacks on defenses he might intend to invoke.

“If my client said everything he said on TV, I would probably faint,” said Jeffrey Jacobovitz, a criminal defense attorney in Washington.

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The Fox News interview aired hours after a federal magistrate judge granted the Justice Department’s request for a protective order that would prevent public disclosure of evidence provided to Trump’s team through an information-sharing process known as discovery, What was said in the interview appears to contradict that directive, despite the absence of any evidence.

It’s part of a long-standing pattern for Trump, who is also seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, to comment publicly on legal issues. At times, the comments have turned against him, including last month when E. Jean Carroll, the advice columnist who won a $5 million sexual abuse and defamation award against Trump, demanded at least another $10 million for his post-judgment remarks .

In criminal cases, the stakes are even higher.

“You usually say to your clients, don’t make any statements. Give me the people,” said Richard Serafini, a former Justice Department official and Florida defense attorney. “Politely decline to make any comment on the case and let your attorney do it for you.”

A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the Fox interview.

The indictment, filed by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, accuses Trump of illegally keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and obstructing government efforts to recover them, including asking aides to relocate the boxes before investigators could visit them and advising his lawyers that he Falsely claiming that all classified material has been returned as requested.

In an interview Monday night, Trump repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

But in doing so, he appeared to undercut possible future arguments by his lawyers that he was not closely involved in handling the boxes or that he had moved quickly to cooperate with the request for the records to be returned. He falsely asserted that under the Presidential Records Act he had the right to keep the documents he took from the White House, and admitted that he delayed turning over the boxes because he wanted to first remove personal items that investigators said were mixed in with the documents — he implied He is too busy to have time for it.

Asked about an allegation in the indictment that he told his attorneys to tell the Justice Department that the subpoena for records was fully complied with, he said, “Before I send the box, I have to get all my stuff out. . These boxes are littered with all kinds of stuff: golf shirts, clothes, pants, shoes. Lots of things.”

“He basically admitted that he knew the documents were there,” Jacobowitz said. “That’s inconsistent with the claim that ‘it was planted there.'”

One of Trump’s Republican rivals, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said that in his view, the excuse for the delay was evidence of obstruction of justice because Trump had allegedly directed his attorneys to testify to the Justice Department about confidentiality. Material has been returned.

“It seemed to me last night, as a former prosecutor, that he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice on the air last night,” Christie said. “I can tell you this: His lawyers were jumping out of any window near them this morning.”

In addition, Trump denied the Justice Department’s characterization of a central allegation in the indictment — that during a July 2021 meeting at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he showed the Pentagon’s “plan of attack” and told others it was “secret” information that he could no longer decipher because he was no longer president. But Trump denied in the interview that he was in possession of specific documents.

“There’s no papers. There’s tons of newspapers and everything, talking about Iran and other things,” Trump told Fox News host Brett Beyer. “It may or may not have been shelved, but it’s not a document. I don’t have a document per se. There’s nothing to declassify. These are newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”

The events detailed in the indictment are based on an audio recording obtained by prosecutors, who may also be able to call people who were present at the Bedminster meeting as witnesses to testify about the documents shared.

But as always with Trump, the court of public opinion matters. Trump, experienced in legal delaying tactics, may want to drag the proceedings out so long that the trial won’t end until after the election.

Meanwhile, Judge Aileen Cannon in the case set a trial date for Aug. 14 on Monday, though that date will no doubt be delayed given the complexity of criminal cases involving sensitive classified information. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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