Legal expert thinks Trump just made a ‘big error’ in his latest comments on the Mar-a-Lago scandal
Donald Trump delivering a speech at a campaign rally held at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Evan El-Amin /

A former federal prosecutor said Donald Trump just dug himself deeper into legal jeopardy with remarks he made in a radio interview.

The former president spoke Thursday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who summarized the interview by saying Trump told him he had declassified all the top-secret documents seized at Mar-a-Lago and therefore doesn't fear indictment -- but former prosecutor Renato Mariotti said he'd actually made things worse for himself.

"Big error by Trump," tweeted Mariotti, who previously worked in the U.S. Attorney's office in the Northern District of Illinois. "His words could be used against him if he is charged. Staking out the position that he 'declassified' everything he brought to Mar-a-Lago may sound like it helps him, but actually it locks him into a story and makes it harder to pivot later if he is charged."

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Trump's own lawyers haven't made that argument in court, and the Department of Justice has stated that would be irrelevant to their subpoena seeking the government documents from the former president's private residence, due to a subtle distinction pointed out by former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa.

"One of the key passages in DOJ’s brief is that the June subpoena didn’t ask for classified records," Rangappa tweeted. "It asked for all records with *classification markings*. Any purported 'declassification' therefore still doesn’t get around obstruction by failing to return everything so marked."

Trump is facing mounting legal pressure, with the Justice Department saying top-secret documents were "likely concealed" to obstruct an FBI probe into his potential mishandling of classified materials.

He has denied all wrongdoing, saying the raid was "one of the most egregious assaults on democracy in the history of our country."

In addition to the documents probe, Trump faces investigations in New York into his business practices, as well as legal scrutiny over his efforts to overturn results of the 2020 election, and for the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

With additional reporting by AFP

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