On Friday, writing for CNN, analyst Stephen Collinson wrote that Trump's legal strategy against the FBI investigation of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is "quickly crumbling" — and could get even worse for him.
"The case has taken a turn against the former President and towards the Justice Department in recent days, suggesting that the classic Trumpian legal strategy of delay, denial and distraction is not working as well as usual," wrote Collinson. "In a sign of the how quickly Trump's position may be eroding in this particular drama, several Republican senators took the unusual step of criticizing his handling of the documents on Thursday, despite his firm hold over their party."
This comes after a week of bad news for Trump in the case, which began with an early victory for him after Aileen Cannon, a Florida judge he appointed, moved to appoint a special master to review the documents for executive privilege, and to block the DOJ from access to them until that review was complete — a controversial move, given there is no precedent either for former presidents having executive privilege, or for such privilege outweighing national security.
Subsequently, the special master, Senior Judge Raymond Dearie, demanded Trump's lawyers clarify the president's constant unsupported claims he declassified the documents — and then a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, including two judges also appointed by Trump, slapped down the part of Cannon's order prohibiting the DOJ from reviewing the documents marked classified.
Trump has tried to claim the investigation, and search of Mar-a-Lago, were a political hit job, noted Collinson.
"But if the former President cannot prove his allegations, as many outside observers expect, his legal position will deteriorate considerably. The tell here may be that Trump's lawyers, who understand they cannot lie under oath, have not repeated many of the ex-President's statements before a judge. The latest twists in the case are therefore jamming them between their obligation to tell the truth and their client who has a famously flexible concept of facts and reality."
And in another bad sign for him, Collinson wrote, key Republicans are refusing to defend his new claim, in a Sean Hannity interview, that he declassified the documents just by thinking about it: "Asked about Trump's claim on Fox News that he could simply declassify documents by thinking about it, Senate GOP Whip John Thune told CNN there's a process for declassifying documents. 'I think it ought to be adhered to and followed. And I think that should apply to anybody who has access to or deals with classified information," the South Dakota Republican said.'"
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