"Mr. Smith’s job is straightforward," they wrote. "He must cut through it all and make clear to the jury that this case is about two simple things: First, a former president took documents containing some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets, which he was no more entitled to remove than the portraits of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin hanging on the walls of the Oval Office. Second, when he was caught, he persistently made up excuses, lied and tried to cover up his behavior, which he continues to do."
Trump took about 13,000 government documents, including more than 300 with classified markings, and he put national security at risk by stashing them in a storage room and office at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and the legal experts agreed that Smith has strong enough evidence to simplify the allegations into "an easily digestible one-two narrative punch of Mr. Trump taking documents that didn’t belong to him and then lying about it to cover up his misdeeds."
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"These cases are so hard to defend that the usual approach is to plead guilty," they wrote. "That’s what other prominent defendants, such as the former Central Intelligence Agency directors John Deutch and David Petraeus, agreed to when caught with mishandling classified documents. (Mr. Deutch was pardoned before the charges were filed.) But Mr. Trump’s case is unique because of his characteristic refusal to ever admit wrongdoing. It’s nearly impossible to imagine him standing up in a courtroom in a plea deal and saying that he is guilty."
Smith must also balance Trump's right as a defendant to have sufficient time to challenge the charges and evidence with the public's right to know whether the GOP presidential candidate has committed serious felonies, and Eisen, Weissman and Vance said "the clock is ticking."
"American voters are entitled to a determination of Mr. Trump’s guilt at a trial," they wrote. "Ideally, that will happen before the presidential nominating process, but at a minimum, it must take place before the general election. That can be done while ensuring that the defendant has his day in court, with full due process rights to seek to be cleared of charges against him — or not, given the strength of the evidence against him."
In addition to convincing a jury that Trump is guilty, Smith must persuade the American public why the charges are consistent with previous Justice Department prosecutions in similar cases and explain why he had a responsibility under the law to bring them."It is impossible to overstate how essential it will be for Mr. Smith to overcome these hurdles and persuade the trial jury and the American people that whether they like the former president or not, whether they voted for him in the past or intend to vote for him again, he committed serious criminal acts," the legal experts wrote. "The consequence of doing that would be nothing short of affirmation of the rule of law in this country. The alternative is too grim to contemplate."