Two reports analyzing two different criminal investigations into Donald Trump came to a unique conclusion: There is enough evidence to bring charges against the former president.
Experienced prosecutors and senior legal experts joined forces this week to provide an assessment of two ongoing investigations — one in Georgia investigating Trump’s actions in the state prior to Jan. 6, 2021, the other led by the Justice Department, which is investigating abuses sensitive Government documents in Mar-a-Lago.
In each case, attorneys found robust cases and significant legal risk for Trump, who faces mounting difficulties as he makes an early bid for the 2024 presidential race.
“Donald Trump faces a lot more legal issues than just these two investigations. But the Georgia investigation into whether his election evasion lapsed into crime following the 2020 election and federal investigation [into] Whether his custody, classified and other documents at Mar-a-Lago have also crossed the criminal red line is the most ominous legal threat he faces,” Norm Eisen, attorney for Trump’s first impeachment and author of both reports, told The Hill.
“They represent a double whammy that has the potential to finally find the accountability it has eluded so many times in the past… I think this run is about to end and these are the two cases that this am.” most likely to do. ”
The nearly 500 pages of collective legal analysis find a litany of state and federal crimes Trump may have committed, from soliciting voter fraud to violating states’ RICO statutes to the espionage law and obstruction of justice.
“We conclude that Trump’s conduct following the Georgia election puts him at significant risk of potential federal charges for multiple crimes,” the Brookings Institution report said.
And in a Just Security report, former prosecutors found additional legislation for the Justice Department to consider, noting that failure to charge Trump with misuse of records would mean Trump would be treated very differently from others facing similar charges were exposed.
“We note that there is strong precedent for the DOJ [Justice Department] impeach Trump. There are many crime cases that the DOJ has prosecuted based on conduct that was significantly less egregious than the current facts in the Trump case,” they wrote. “In short, we conclude that not indicting Trump would be a major departure from typical treatment of defendants.”
The group, which includes prosecutors who worked on the Mueller report, found that Trump’s intransigence in returning the documents — failing to comply with an initial return request and a later subpoena — compounded the gravity of the case.
“Aggravating factors in Trump’s case include the length of his retention of government documents, the size of the government documents, the highly sensitive nature of the documents, the number of warnings received, his obstructive behavior and the involvement of others in his scheme,” they wrote.
After a relatively quiet period for the Justice Department in the weeks leading up to the Midterms, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a major development in his investigation on Friday, turning two of his investigations over to a special counsel.
Longtime prosecutor Jack Smith will oversee both the Mar-a-Lago investigation and the Jan. 6 portion of the investigation that focuses at the highest level on “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power,” he said garland
Smith’s appointment does not affect the investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
The investigation — as well as the Justice Department’s scrutiny — is certain to resume in the coming months as Smith begins work and the Department faces key court dates.
The Justice Department is locked in a battle to recover more than 10,000 government documents that are still being reviewed by the special foreman in charge of Trump’s case. Oral hearings this Tuesday in the 11th federal district could expedite that process if the appeals court with the department determines that third-party verification of the documents is not required and orders that they be returned to prosecutors.
Also expected before the end of the year is a report by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a document likely to include criminal referrals to the Justice Department to increase pressure on the department, some seriously consider to draw fees.
The reports are intended to reassure prosecutors – whether Willis or the highest echelons of the Justice Department – that they have a case.
In Georgia, attorneys see a sweeping array of laws Trump may have violated with conduct, including a call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes.
Aside from encouraging voter fraud, Trump may also have intentionally interfered with voting obligations, while the campaign’s false manifesto could affect a number of state fraud-related laws.
Overall, the report finds at least 11 charges that could arise from Trump’s efforts in Georgia.
“In general, in Georgia, a single issue can trigger criminal liability under multiple laws based on the different elements of different crimes,” they write.
In the Mar-a-Lago report, experts found three other laws that could be implicated beyond the three first listed in the government warrant.
Two deal primarily with Trump’s opposition, including criminal contempt and lying to authorities.
But they are also drafting a law dealing with the conversion of state property, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors would have to show that the documents are government property or valuables and that a defendant converted or withheld the documents for their use.
For his part, Trump has denied any wrongdoing, despite repeatedly lashing out at the Justice Department and the FBI. He did so in his speech this week when announcing his candidacy, saying no threat “greater than being armed by the System, the FBI, or the DOJ.”
The reports also go through possible Trump defenses — and find them largely flawed.
The Mar-a-Lago report devotes over 20 pages to potential Trump defenses and reads like an in-depth look at many of the issues the Justice Department has already presented in court. Gradually, the report dismisses claims by Trump that he released the recordings — something his attorneys have failed to fully assert in court, and little for charges involving the taking of “national defense information” regardless of its classification status is important. It also dismisses defenses based on Trump’s claims that the recordings are either his personal property or protected by executive privileges, or that the government acted in some way improperly in their search.
“None of these potential defenses would provide a complete or effective defense,” concludes the Just Security report.
In the Georgia report, the authors argue that Trump does not enjoy immunity for his conduct as president, and they also reject the concept that the former president cannot fulfill the intent element required for a successful prosecution because he genuinely believes he has won the election to have .
“If prosecutors can prove that he knew he lost the election – that it wasn’t ‘stolen’ from him – it would go a long way towards clearing that hurdle of criminal intent. … The January 6 committee has gathered evidence that Trump knew he had lost. Numerous Trump aides and attorneys have testified before the committee,” the report said.
“Even if Trump genuinely believed he had won in the face of overwhelming evidence, he still had no legal right to use fake ballot papers, pressure election officials in Georgia to find 11,780 votes that didn’t exist, or himself.” to engage by other extra-legal means to try to stay in power.”
Eisen said prosecutors were dealing with “pretty clear-cut cases” in both investigations.
“The issue that arises from this is the power of evidence,” he said. “Two sets of smoking evidence, two sets of simple, very powerful legal cases. And a common principle, and that is the principle that no one is above the law.”