New reports on Trump's docs reveal a felony and possible espionage charge: legal experts
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CNN reported new evidence revealed in the special counsel’s investigation of Donald Trump's document scandal. Now legal experts are explaining just how bad it is for the former president.

According to a National Archives letter to Trump on May 16, the staff intends to provide special counsel Jack Smith 16 records that would reveal the White House advisers were taught the appropriate way to declassify documents.

“The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records,” acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote to Trump in a letter obtained by CNN.

This isn't the first time that Trump has failed to scapegoat others for the documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago. Top Trump adviser Kash Patel told a far-right outlet that the General Services Administration (GSA) packed up Trump's boxes, and they were the ones who somehow forced Trump to steal the documents. Not long after, the GSA released a letter saying that they required the staff to sign off on the contents in the boxes.

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Posting the CNN report on Twitter, former Republican Ethics Czar for George W. Bush, Richard Painter, explained that it's an example of Trump lying to the federal government, a breach of 18 U.S.C 1001. "Yet another felony," said Painter.

National security lawyer Mark Zaid said that Trump's "awareness" of the classification process goes to Trump's state of mind, "which is what criminal cases are generally about."

Speaking to MSNBC's Alex Wagner, Zaid explained that the case has never been about the mishandling of national defense information or classified documents. It's about the Espionage Act. Mishandling classified information is a fairly frequent occurrence, he said, noting that he wouldn't be surprised if every president since Reagan (and likely before that) had done it.

"I see all the time, in my cases. What's at issue here is that, as you reported and CNN had reported, Trump and his inner circle were told how to properly classify and declassify information. And I will say even further, because I independently verified it, that they were instructed in the days and weeks before leaving the White House for the transition on how to pack up the documents so as not to take classified information."

He pointed to the obstruction piece of the case as being another problem for Trump. If leaks are to be believed, Zaid said, "Trump not only mishandled the information but also sought to hide it from the U.S. government and obstruct the investigation by deliberately acting on that, as well as giving instructions to others possibly, even his lawyers, as to where to move the documents around Mar-a-Lago."

It was reported on Wednesday morning that one of Trump's top lawyers, Timothy Parlatore, was leaving Trump's legal team. Parlatore testified before the grand jury in Dec. 2022, which put him in a conflict, where he would be serving as a witness and a lawyer in the same case. Parlatore claimed it was an unrelated issue.

The reason Parlatore might have been called in to testify before the grand jury is that he was the lawyer that organized the searches for additional documents at Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, a Palm Beach office, and the storage unit in Florida.

Attorney-client privilege has a key exception to it. The privilege can be eliminated if the service of the lawyer was for the purpose of engaging in a crime or fraud. It isn't even necessary that the lawyer know they're part of the crime or fraud.

See Mark Zaid's analysis in the video below or at the link here.