Mar-A-Lago nuclear revelations make it 'almost impossible' for Trump to escape charges: legal expert
Donald Trump / Gage Skidmore.

The revelation that Donald Trump kept materials related to a foreign nation's nuclear capabilities puts intense pressure on the Department of Justice to bring charges against the former president.

FBI agents found those highly classified documents -- which many high-ranking national security officials aren't even aware of -- at Mar-A-Lago during a search last month, and MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade told "Morning Joe" that prosecutors had to indict Trump for holding onto those top-secret government records.

"I think there are two things about this that are very significant," McQuade said. "One is, regardless of classification level, it is clear now that this relates to national defense information, and that's the language of the Espionage Act. So Donald Trump can claim to have declassified documents all day. He might even have been successful, and that would be no defense to the claim. The other thing that I think is significant about this is it makes it almost impossible for the Justice Department to decline to bring criminal charges."

McQuade said this situation called for strong action, compared with similar violations by other former government officials after they had left office.

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"Sometimes there are technical violations, but unless there are aggravating factors, sometimes they'll decline and just get their documents back and be on their way," McQuade said. "Something as egregious as this it would be impossible for them to decline."

The other thing that should worry Trump is the sourcing for this report, which McQuade said did not appear to have come from investigators but instead from sources close to the former president.

"I think there's speculation by Trump's lawyers who are hollering that this is a leak by the government," she said. "I think it's highly unlikely in such a sensitive case. In my experience, when leaks came out, it was not government officials identified in reporting, it's people familiar with the investigation. Most often, it is a witness who is offended at what is happening, wants to deflect any information from themselves and shares that information with the media."

Watch the video below or at this link.

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