Did Trump Break the Law?

In another thread I proposed that it remains to be established whether Trump broke the law by having his presidential papers at Mar-a-Lago. Here’s some commentary outlining the legal issues as defined in the search warrant:

The search warrant asserts it is in pursuit of evidence that Trump violated Title 18 U.S. Code Sections 793, 1519, and 2071.

Section 793 is a general law prohibiting the misuse of classified information. It specifically prohibits a person who, through gross negligence, removes such information from its proper place or delivers it to anyone not having proper access to it.

Section 1519 is a statute prohibiting obstruction of justice by altering, destroying, covering up, or concealing any public record.

But the nub of the issue is Title 18 U.S. Code Section 2071. Under it, anyone who “takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States and … Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” (Emphasis added.)

There is a huge problem with Section 2071. It’s clearly unconstitutional.

The Constitution sets out the only criteria for holding the presidential office. Under Article 2, Section 2, any natural-born U.S. citizen over the age of 35 is eligible to run for the presidency. The only limitation is the one contained in the 14th Amendment mentioned above that covers previous office-holders who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.

Section 2071 is unconstitutional because Congress cannot, by enacting any law, change the Constitution. That won’t prevent Trump from being indicted under it.

The way I see it, it should be fairly easy for Trump to have complied with Sections 793, 1519, and 2071:

  • Section 793. Mar-a-Lago must have been approved as a location for storage of classified materials, since the president occasionally worked there while in office. Also, it must have been approved as a storage location for presidential papers, or else the National Archives would have objected.
  • Section 1519. Obstruction is unlikely, since the location of the documents was well-known, Trump’s attorneys were communicative, and no one is talking about any alterations or destruction of documents.
  • Section 2071. As stated, unconstitutional.

All in all, the Mar-a-Lago raid may turn out to have been both low-key and half-baked.

69 thoughts on “Did Trump Break the Law?

  1. …”the Mar-a-Lago raid may turn out to have been both low-key and half-baked.”

    The only thing “half-baked” is the litany of excuses and excuse makers coming forward to defend potentially criminal activity that if done by a Democratic President the “Lock Him/Her Up” chants would be heard all over the country. Led by “pundits” who think the sun rises and sets in the pants of a former POTUS living in Palm Beach County FL.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Denying they happened based on some “commentary” from a right wing, Trump humping site like spectator, is dangerous. I suggest you look at the post from lawfareblog.org I shared earlier.

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  2. There is a difference between a reason and a pretense.

    The Search Warrant presents the pretense, and a clearly thin one, but the reason was to gain access to Trump’s records for political espionage and to recover documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ leadership.

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    1. “There is a difference between a reason and a pretense.”

      More absolute idiocy!

      The search warrant was carefully considered, properly drafted, legally approved, and carefully executed. In the event, documents belonging to the government were – in fact – recovered.

      If political espionage was really the purpose would it be done so openly or would it be by the many clandestine methods available especially when the target is a big-mouthed dunce like Trump? Of course not. That is idiotic.

      If Trump truly had documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ leadership, why would he just sit on them for almost two years? That is idiotic.

      And would the FBI believe that the originals of these damning documents had not been copied multiple times and could be suppressed forever in this way? Of course not. That is idiotic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RE: “If Trump truly had documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ leadership, why would he just sit on them for almost two years?”

        Because that’s the very question the special prosecutor is investigating.

        RE: “And would the FBI believe that the originals of these damning documents had not been copied multiple times and could be suppressed forever in this way?”

        If they didn’t the raid was pointless.

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    2. RE: “There is a difference between a reason and a pretense.”

      Yes. The raid is looking less and less justifiable as details emerge.

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        1. To back up the apparent assertion by Don that ”… the reason was to gain access to Trump’s records for political espionage and to recover documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ leadership.”

          Was that in the search warrant? Testimony? Newsflash? The back of a Cheerio box? A fortune cookie?

          Or just pure speculation…again.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. To back up the apparent assertion by Don that ”… the reason was to gain access to Trump’s records for political espionage and to recover documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ leadership.”

            There is no cite for that, but circumstantial evidence is accumulating as details emerge. In this post, for example, I assert that violations of Sections 793, 1519, and 2071 of Title 18 don’t look like strong candidates for either civil or criminal prosecution.

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          2. “There is no cite for that, but circumstantial evidence is accumulating as details emerge.”

            Well, of course there is no cite for horseshit. That was the obvious point of Len’s one word post. I commend his patience and civility in politely explaining that for you.

            I am curious what emerging details make it seem that this was anything but lawful action based on clear probable cause that crimes had been committed? In fact, the more we learn the more obvious it is that Trump’s initial lies about Gestapo tactics etc. was cut from whole cloth.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. …”circumstantial evidence is accumulating”

            So is my pile of compost. It is still just FERTILIZER with no basis in fact. Only in the fevered imaginations of those who believe Trump is a saint.

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          4. RE: “I am curious what emerging details make it seem that this was anything but lawful action based on clear probable cause that crimes had been committed?”

            Probable cause? As stated, “Sections 793, 1519, and 2071 of Title 18 don’t look like strong candidates for either civil or criminal prosecution” against Trump

            We have yet to see documentary evidence of unlawful action on the part of the FBI, but its track record of questionable performance in Crossfire Hurricane is grounds for suspicion.

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          5. “Probable cause? As stated, “Sections 793, 1519, and 2071 of Title 18 don’t look like strong candidates for either civil or criminal prosecution” against Trump”

            In other words, you got nothing but wishful thinking. I thought as much.

            Here in the real world, the retrieval of NDI and other documents from an insecure and unauthorized location is prima facie evidence that the statutes cited were violated.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. RE: “Here in the real world, the retrieval of NDI and other documents from an insecure and unauthorized location is prima facie evidence that the statutes cited were violated.”

            Tell us how you know the location was insecure and unauthorized.

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          7. “Tell us how you know the location was insecure and unauthorized.”

            Because the NARA had to ask the DOJ for help retrieving the documents from an insecure and unauthorized location. Duh!

            Liked by 1 person

          8. RE: “Because the NARA had to ask the DOJ for help retrieving the documents from an insecure and unauthorized location.”

            Circular reasoning. Show us NARA’s statement claiming the documents were stored in an insecure and unauthorized location. Show us evidence the location was insecure (BTW, I have posted on this issue under a separate title).

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    3. …”the reason was to gain access to Trump’s records for political espionage and to recover documents that would expose the criminality of the DOJ lead”

      When are you going to provide proof of all of your allegations?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “… it must have been approved as a storage location for presidential papers, or else the National Archives would have objected.”

    The Archive did object. For 20 months. They finally contacted DOJ when they got the falsely signed document by Trump, through his attorney, that all material marked as classified had been returned.

    Obstruction was his refusal to return documents that did not belong to him. Even with a subpoena.

    Running for president? Maybe from a Georgia State Prison.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “If the NARA had objected to storage at Mar-a-Lago, no presidential documents would have gone there in the first place.”

        You people are ridiculous. How was NARA to know that Trump had loaded up an undisclosed and uncatalogued trove of documents and took them to his golf club. Did he ask for approval of that closet as a secure location for classified materials and NDI? How were they supposed to object to something they did not know about?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Contacted Trump almost a year later?

            So how does that show approval of storage facilities when he left the White House?

            BTW Cippolone and his deputy Philbin have both been called to interview with the FBI. Apparently they were involved with negotiations with NARA.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “So how does that show approval of storage facilities when he left the White House?”

            It doesn’t. It answers Mr. Murphy’s question.

            To believe that NARA didn’t know about and tacitly approve of Mar-a-Lago as a storage location for presidential records before Trump even left office is to believe that NARA was negligent.

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          3. “Because NARA contacted Trump in late 2021.”

            Sure, after careful attempts to catalog what was left behind revealed that known documents were nowhere to be found. Have you forgotten that the actual theft of documents occurred in EARLY 2021.

            With hindsight perhaps the government raid should have occurred at the moment the theft was discovered. Instead it bent over backwards to recover the stolen materials without such drama. It is very typical of you people that you now try to shift the blame to them because they were patient.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. RE: “Have you forgotten that the actual theft of documents occurred in EARLY 2021?”

            I assert that it remains to be established that any “actual theft” occurred.

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          5. “I assert that it remains to be established that any “actual theft” occurred.”

            Be that as it may, the documents were removed and taken to Florida long before NARA became aware that they had been. That FACT makes your claim that either NARA approved the move or that it was negligent laughably absurd. Again, not surprising.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. RE: “the documents were removed and taken to Florida long before NARA became aware that they had been.”

            Prove it. Even by the timeline I have provided in this thread there is no evidence that NARA didn’t know that Trump had presidential records at Mar-a-Lago immediately after leaving office.

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          7. “Prove it. Even by the timeline I have provided in this thread there is no evidence that NARA didn’t know that Trump had presidential records at Mar-a-Lago immediately after leaving office.”

            Your “logic” is beyond laughable. You have ZERO evidence that NARA knew that Trump had stolen dozens of documents. He did not ask them. He did not tell them. They did not know that he had done so until many months later when some well-known documents were missing.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh come ON. Trump regularly conducted classified executive office business at Mar a Lago during the pandemic. Of course everyone knew there were classified documents already there long before Trump left office.

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      2. I don’t see where your assertion that NARA approved the storage.

        Trump scooted out of town and took boxes of documents with him.

        NARA started to get concerned about missing classified documents. The rest is what we are seeing now.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “I don’t see where your assertion that NARA approved the storage.”

          I assert that they “must have” approved the storage at Mar-a-Lago, not that I have evidence they did. The law establishes that Presidential records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the Archivist as soon as the President leaves office. If NARA didn’t make inquiries of the White House before Trump’s term ended, NARA was negligent.

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          1. Are you for real? Trump and his accomplices were up to their asses trying to overturn the election up until the day he flew out of town with his haul. I dint think NARA expected a thief.

            Giuliani was quoted as saying that “we don’t have any evidence, just theories” when talking to the AZ Speaker about decertifying the election.

            You must be a student of his.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “I dint think NARA expected a thief.”

            Then show us proof that NARA didn’t know that presidential records would be stored at Mar-a-lago.

            Per the timeline I have already posted:

            “‘NARA had ongoing communications with the representatives of former President Trump throughout 2021, which resulted in the transfer of 15 boxes to NARA in January 2022,’ David Ferriero, who served as NARA director from November 2009 until April, wrote to House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in response to an inquiry in February.”

            https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-vs-national-archives-timeline-leading-mar-a-lago-raid

            Your claim that Trump was a thief is not supported by the record. A thief doesn’t spend more than a year discussing his stolen property with its owners.

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          3. And on June 3 2022, a Lawyer representing Trump in this negotiation signed an affidavit that ALL Classified material had been returned. That is a lie. As proven by the material recovered when the search warrant was executed, legally, lawfully and professionally.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. “If NARA didn’t make inquiries of the White House before Trump’s term ended, NARA was negligent.”

            If you will recall, the shithead President you admire refused any kind of cooperation with the Presidential transition. He was pouting like a toddler who was denied a sucker. The idea that somehow NARA should have known that Trump was going to cart off boxes of Presidential and classified documents from his term in office is laughable nonsense.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. RE: “The idea that somehow NARA should have known that Trump was going to cart off boxes of Presidential and classified documents from his term in office is laughable nonsense.”

            The idea is not one I have proposed. I assert that NARA was aware and tacitly approved of presidential papers being stored at Mar-a-Lago.

            If you wish to assert otherwise, show us evidence of NARA’s negligence.

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          6. “I assert that NARA was aware and tacitly approved of presidential papers being stored at Mar-a-Lago.”

            The facts say otherwise. The sitting President taking papers back and forth from his vacation home in his briefcase is not the same as the former President permanently removing dozens of boxes of uncatalogued NDI documents to an unsecure location without any form of coordination or approval. It was a crime from that moment.

            NARA became aware long after the fact of the theft when their cataloging of what was left behind had big holes in it. The idea that they tacitly approved of what Trump did and where he stored these documents could not be more absurd. But if your assertion is true, show us the evidence.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. So now it’s NARA’s fault that Trump stole government documents when he left office?

            Shift the blame, but hold the one truly responsible blameless? Idiocy from people who claim to support the Rule of Law.

            Post from Politico this morning is coming. It explains quite clearly how things ended up in MAL that didn’t belong there.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. RE: “The idea that [NARA] tacitly approved of what Trump did and where he stored these documents could not be more absurd.”

            Don’t misrepresent my statements. I said only that NARA knew where Trump stored the papers in his possession and approved of the storage location. My proof is that NARA could not have not known, unless they were negligent.

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          9. “Don’t misrepresent my statements. I said only that NARA knew where Trump stored the papers in his possession and approved of the storage location.”

            As soon as the NARA figured out that Trump had absconded with the documents they demanded them back. That is hardly approving of the storage location. It is the opposite. This is not hard to understand unless you are really, really stupid.

            Liked by 1 person

          10. RE: “So now it’s NARA’s fault that Trump stole government documents when he left office?”

            Not what I said. Also, it remains to be shown that Trump “stole” anything.

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          11. You said that NARA was negligent. YOUR words. Words have meaning. By stating that NARA was “negligent”, you put the onus on them to have done anything differently.

            READ THE POLITICO POST.

            Liked by 1 person

      3. …” no presidential documents would have gone there in the first place. “…

        Horse Hockey. I recommend you look HARD and with OPEN EYES at my post from POLITICO today. It explains quire clearly that there was no oversight of the paperwork being shuffled around the Oval Office and Dining Room (Trump’s favorite work spaces, according to the story) by NARA, or even those in charge of the packing. Not even a staffer from Meadows’s office to ensure that the rules of the Presidential Records Act were being followed. Proof that the administration had NO respect for laws they didn’t like.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The signed document only stated there was no classified documents there. Since Trump had already declassified them, the signed letter was truthful.

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      1. Exactly right.

        We should note, too, that no one has shown any harm to national security (or even just government operations) that occurred because sensitive materials were stored at Mar-a-Lago. One could say, “No harm, no foul.”

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        1. One could say, “No harm, no foul.”

          You can say that all you want. The law does not recognize that as an exoneration.

          There was no evidence that anything was ever lifted from Clinton’s email server either. That did not stop you people from screaming “Lock her up!” until you were blue in the face.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. SCI labeled material is as sensitive as it comes and takes a lot more tha a tweet from POTUS to declassigfy it.

          Delusional people continue to make delusional arguments with NO PROOF. Just speculation. And poor speculation at that.,

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Trump didn’t use Twitter to order the declassification of anything. I created a new post to address the security requirements for TS/SCI materials.

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          2. “Trump didn’t use Twitter to order the declassification of anything.”

            Obviously, he did TRY to do that. His Chief-of-staff had to go to court to say that his tweet or October 6, 2020 should be ignored.

            Why are you never able to acknowledge demonstrable truth? Maybe dementia? How elderly are you?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. RE: “Why are you never able to acknowledge demonstrable truth?”

            Why are you never able to substantiate your assertions?

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      2. Classified or not, the documents did not belong to Trump. He is no longer our employee.

        The papers belong to us. You know, real Americans and even some Republicans.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “The papers belong to us.”

          That may be, but that was not the basis of the search warrant. Sections 793, 1519, and 2071 of Title 18 were the basis.

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          1. I don’t care what statutes are cited. If somebody takes our documents for whatever reason and does not return them when asked, asked again, subpoenaed, signed a false declaration and still kept them, he stole them.

            Plus Trump does not have security clearance as a civilian.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. Found this at lawfareblog.com. Everyone might want to read it carefully, as it appears to explain, rather clearly, that unless there was documentary evidence of declassification by TFG, it may not matter in the grand scheme of things.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/does-it-matter-what-if-anything-trump-declassified

    There are procedures to be followed, including amending an EO, or issuing an updated one with regards to declassification of official documents. Neither of which Mr. Trump did, according to the post.

    Like

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