Don’t Take Your Eye Off Jack Smith

The classified-documents scandal is continuing to look worse and worse for Donald Trump.

From The Atlantic:

The eyes of the world will be on Manhattan, where the former president is expected to be arraigned this morning. But the clearest threat to Trump is quietly still the one posed by the Justice Department’s investigation into his handling of classified documents.

An eye-opening new report in The Washington Post underscores the strength of the possible case against Trump—and in particular the suggestion that he has tried to obstruct the investigation.

Two things set Trump’s situation apart: First, the documents are extremely sensitive, reportedly covering nuclear secrets and programs aimed at China and Iran. Second, when the government asked Trump for the documents, he (unlike Biden and Pence) refused to hand them over. This truculence is why the FBI ended up making an unannounced search in August, which turned up more than 100 documents marked classified.

According to the new report: “Federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.”

Smith’s probe has perhaps gotten less attention than the others because, like Robert Mueller before him, he has overseen an investigation with few leaks. Mueller, too, ended up zeroing in on obstruction, and provided clear evidence that Trump had obstructed justice—though he refused to say so plainly or bring charges, citing DOJ guidance against indicting a sitting president. Smith faces no such procedural hurdle.

According to the Atlantic’s David Graham, “Often, prosecutors do bring obstruction charges when the act impedes prosecuting an underlying crime. But in this case, obstruction is not just an effort to avoid prosecution; it’s a perpetuation of the crime itself—keeping the documents. Smith has an opportunity to recognize that and act where the previous special counsel [Mueller] couldn’t or wouldn’t.”

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