'Calm before the storm': How the DOJ could be building Trump 'obstruction and destruction of government property' case
President Trump speaks at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas on October 28. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

According to a report from the Washington Post, there appears to be two tracks tied to the investigation of Donald Trump's decision to whisk away sensitive government documents to his Mar-a-Lago resort which then led to an FBI search armed with a warrant.

On the one hand is the very public battle being played out between the DOJ, the former president's lawyers and the special master Raymond Dearie over specific documents Trump claims he declassified.

Then there is the Department of Justice's behind-the-scenes compilation of what they already have on hand and the possibility that they have reached the stage where they are gaming out charges, looking at legal precedents and anticipating any defenses the former president's legal team will put forward.

As the Post's Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett wrote, the silence from the DOJ is not unexpected, but some observers believe there is something afoot.

Writing, "No big public developments are expected in the Mar-a-Lago investigation until after the Nov. 8 midterms — in part because of a long-standing Justice Department practice to avoid doing anything that could be seen as helping one side or another in the election, and in part because the special master is still sorting through the less-sensitive material seized at the Florida property," the report adds, "Experts say those pieces of evidence — combined with repeated indications in court filings that prosecutors suspect Trump’s team purposefully failed to comply with a subpoena seeking all documents marked classified — suggest the government could be building criminal cases alleging obstruction and destruction of government property."

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According to national security consultant Paul Rosenzweig, "You know how just before a storm breaks, there is a time of calm? We are sort of there. This is the calm before the storm.”

Jim Walden, a former federal prosecutor, said the 13,000 documents the DOJ is concentrating on appear to be the key to what happens next.

The DOJ "wouldn’t be pushing as hard” in their fight over the special master “if there weren’t some serious national security questions that remain unanswered. Those [13,000] documents are very critical.”

"In the meantime, the FBI likely will continue seeking witnesses who can provide information about the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago, including whether Trump or his representatives deliberately hid documents from the Justice Department or falsely claimed to have turned over all classified materials while restricted material remained on the premises," the Post is reporting. "Among the questions they will try to answer, legal experts said, is what the former president knew about the documents and whether his possession of those materials at Mar-a-Lago may have endangered national security."

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