The questions before the grand jury are whether Trump wrongfully retained classified documents and did he later obstruct the government in trying to get them back.
"Question number one, and to some degree, question or two, really depends on what federal criminal statute you're looking at," explained Cevallos. And there are some that don't even really require classification or non-classification. It isn't a fundamental issue as to whether there is a crime. One of these is the Espionage Act."
He explained that Ainsley's article discussed the specifics of whether or not a document is classified and the level of potential harm it could cause. Those things determine whether it would fall under the Espionage Act.
"So, those two questions that you ask are the key ones," said Cevallos. "Were they wrongfully detained, and afterward, when there is notice that, hey, these are not yours. You must return them, was there obstruction? So, really, you have a couple of different statutes involved. But [there are] two really different fundamental questions: the first one could be explained away by mistake. It could be excusable. The problem with the second one —"
Host Yasmin Vossoughian cut him off to say that Donald Trump has said over and over that he took them because "they are mine."
"How much of that is gonna come back to bite him? Secondly, when you look at the Washington Post reporting, 'dress rehearsals,' documents removed, the day before the FBI agent showed up at Mar-a-Lago," she said, later noting it says, "obstruction" to her.
"Right, you have a number of good arguments there," Cevallos said. "The defense is, if you look at Trump's defenses, they have holes in them as well. First, he signaled at least this whole, I can classify anything defense. It isn't very powerful. When he says, he can do it by thinking about it."
Vossoughian said it doesn't pass the smell test.
Cevallos cited James Comey, who called the tapes a horrible development for Trump, "I once said, Lordy I hope there are tapes."
"I can tell you, he is right, they're devastating," Cevallos continued. "The problem is exactly that. You may have tapes that are made by someone who is a lying liar. It doesn't matter. If they recorded it, it doesn't matter if they're criminal, doesn't matter if they have credibility issues. If they authenticated it, they get on the stand and say, 'I recorded this,' that is so-and-so's voice, and the jury can hear the voice. In this case, we really need to authenticate Donald Trump's voice. Who doesn't know that voice? He's not an unknown quantity. You press play, and it doesn't matter who your witness is, and how unreliable they are. It is the tape, it is the person's own voice that will bury them. It happens all the time. Increasingly so now that prosecutors and FBI have sworn smaller recording devices. White color cases are routinely made with tapes, and I can't tell you how powerful they are and how devastating they are as a defense attorney."
He also said he doesn't like to predict a timeline for indictments but said: "It could be right around the corner."
See the discussion below or at the link here.
Trump's own voice on the documents tape will be 'devastating' in a courtroom