Brandon Van Grack joined Rachel Maddow on Monday to discuss the pieces of the new scandal involving former President Donald Trump and classified documents he took from the White House.
Van Grack was the Justice Department lawyer who helped with special counsel Robert Mueller's efforts as well as the lawyer who prosecuted Michael Flynn, before withdrawing in early 2020. Among the things he explained to Maddow was that so many things at issue in the case of Trump's documents is a lot of noise and deflection.
First, there's the matter of the passport. While it might be tempting to highlight Trump's claims, it isn't important.
"It's really important that we're not distracted by the cacophony and really focus on the important information and that goes to my earlier point," he said. "Just based on what we know, there are significant national security implications. But with respect to the passport, if that was in fact true, if there were multiple passports of the former president taken, there really not much to read into that. It is unlikely that the department of justice is signaling that the former president is a flight risk. It is unlikely that the Department of Justice is signaling that criminal charges are imminent."
He explained that it's more likely that it was just a response to the search warrant.
The second issue is that over the past week Trump tried to publicly reach out to Attorney General Merrick Garland or speak to him through the press. Van Grack explained that it too is fairly irrelevant.
"The reality is that there is probably outreaches that occur to senior levels of the government, Department of Justice, all the time," he said. "This is something where I cannot see or think of a situation where an outreach like that will have any impact on the investigation. So, appropriate or not, again, I don't think it will have any impact on the investigation. Again, really, I would consider it to be noise or distraction when the fact is, again, there are real national security issues at play and that should be the focus."
Maddow went on to ask if the former president is in trouble if it turns out he mishandled the documents and put national security at risk. She also wondered if the public would witness the DOJ call Trump in for questioning.
"So, the reality is if he is the target of an investigation, there isn't going to be an interview," Van Grack explained. "And we do know from the information that you discussed at the top of the hour that there is discussion in the government's recent filing in terms of the decision not to unseal the affidavit that there are witnesses who are cooperating with the investigation. Specifically, say that's a basis for not unsealing the affidavit. So, there are certainly people in the orbit that would have information that would be relevant to understanding the intent and motive."
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