Following a bombshell Thursday night report in The New York Times, a former top Department of Justice official publicly warned about the team Attorney General Merrick Garland has investigating Donald Trump.
"A top Justice Department official told former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department believed he had not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House, according to two people briefed on the matter," The New York reported. "The outreach from the official, Jay I. Bratt, who leads the department’s counterintelligence operations, is the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Mr. Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former president was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term."
CNN confirmed the report and added, "Justice Department officials have demanded in recent weeks to former President Donald Trump’s attorneys that he return any outstanding documents marked as classified."
DOJ's position was analyzed by NYU Law Prof. Andrew Weissmann. Before being the lead prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Weissmann led the criminal fraud section at DOJ, and was general counsel of the FBI.
"What’s with DOJ playing footsie with Trump? 'Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.' How about treating Trump like anyone else -- and charge him?" Weissmann posted to Twitter.
"DOJ looks so lame here," he added. "Maybe DOJ thinks if it asks politely the docs will all be returned and the whole affair can be put in the past, and bygones will be bygones! The whole approach here is just pissing me off (in case you can’t tell)."
Weissmann suggested their DOJ team may not be properly staffed.
"The problem with the DOJ staffing on the MAL case (at least what is visible) is the lead attorney is trained to think of DOJ’s role as negotiating compliance with the law after the person is discovered to be in violation vs indicting the person to promote compliance with the law," he wrote.
"The same group did no criminal investigation into [Paul] Manafort’s FARA violations for 8 months, but negotiated with his counsel for 8 months to have him file FARA disclosure forms after years of violating that law," Weissmann reminded. "They interviewed no witnesses. Issued no GJ subpoenas. They got no Manafort docs. They did give Manafort docs when he falsely claimed to DOJ he had no docs to refresh his recollection of the facts, which they did not verify."
"So that’s why I’m super concerned about the staffing here," Weissmann wrote. "Worried it’s too much of a regulator’s mindset. Not what is needed IMHO. (By the way, not in any way saying they are not honest and good people, to be clear)."
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