Special Counsel Gives Grand Jury Evidence To Trump Lawyers -- Who May Soon Flee
Donald Trump has been having trouble finding attorneys. His previous batch not only dropped out of the case connected to his federal indictments over mishandling classified documents just one day after those charges were handed down, they abandoned Trumps’ lawsuit against CNN in midstream. Enough attorneys have run away from Trump that Forbes has prepared a handy timeline of the nine times Trump has changed out his legal team just since 2020. According to The Washington Post, Trump has swapped out 16 attorneys since 2016, making it an open question whether they last longer than his ketchup bottles.
Anyone who is standing too close to Mar-a-Lago today should be aware of the high probability of more attorneys departing at high speed, because Trump’s team was just handed the first batch of evidence collected by special counsel Jack Smith to prepare the 37 federal indictments leveled against Trump on June 8.
Included in the information are recordings of Trump speaking at Bedminster in which he brags about retaining a top secret document, explains how it was prepared, and admits that he can’t declassify it—a sort of all-in-one pre-packaged conviction for at least one charge of mishandling classified documents, lying to investigators, and obstructing justice. But the most interesting part of the statement that accompanies this release of information may be a very strong hint that there are still more Trump recordings in which he confesses to his crimes.
As CNN reports, this represents extremely swift movement on the part of Smith and the Department of Justice. It’s also another indication that Smith is ready for Trump’s trial to begin, which is the last thing that Trump wants to happen.
The next official date on the court calendar is July 24, which Judge Aileen Cannon has penciled in as the final day for getting in filings in advance of trial. It’s absolutely certain that at the last possible moment on that date, Trump’s attorney (assuming he has one at that point) will file for an extension, requesting more time for motions and a delay of the Aug. 14 court date. Such initial requests are often granted even with very little cause, and Trump can expect to move the goalposts back for several months, with the Trump-appointed Cannon determining just how much additional slack he will receive.
Additional requests for delay beyond that point should have to jump considerably higher hurdles, but again … Cannon. So we’ll have to wait and see.
But Smith is giving Trump’s team absolutely no reason to claim they haven’t had sufficient time to review the evidence by providing it early and in quantity. It’s another sign that what the government wants here is a swift movement toward the earliest possible court date. Though Cannon is very unlikely to mesh with that goal.
Included in the Wednesday filing is a statement that refers to multiple “interviews” of Trump among the audio evidence, rather than the single recording that was known to exist from the evidence included in the indictments. The already well-known recording, with Trump explaining that he could have declassified the document while in the White House but didn’t, was reportedly made by a journalist compiling information for an upcoming memoir by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. There have been multiple claims over recent weeks that Meadows is cooperating in the investigation, but these are so far unsubstantiated.
In addition to the audio testimony, the information provided to Trump’s attorneys includes transcripts of all testimony heard by the Florida grand jury that issued the indictments against Trump. It’s unclear if Trump’s team also received transcripts of the testimony before a Washington, D.C., grand jury that heard the case for several months before Smith decided to seat a second jury closer to the scene of Trump’s alleged criminal events.
Another interesting point of the Wednesday filing is that it makes clear that the information has not been provided to the legal team of Trump’s “body man,” Walt Nauta. Nauta appears on several of the charges along with Trump, as well having one charge of lying to investigators on his own. Trump was forbidden from discussing the case with Nauta one of the few conditions placed on his release following arraignment, but the indictments against both Trump and Nauta are currently being treated as a single case.
There have been several suggestions that, like Meadows, Nauta has or is considering cooperating with the special counsel’s office. Some analysts have taken how the discovery evidence was provided to Trump's attorneys, but not Nauta’s attorneys in the Wednesday order as a signal that the Department of Justice is treating the two defendants differently, elevating claims that Nauta has agreed to a deal of some sort.
With both Nauta and Meadows, reports that they have flipped in exchange for reduced charges or sentencing are unconfirmed. In Nauta’s case, they seem little more than speculation.
What’s certain is that the charges against Trump look damning, discovery has begun, and Smith is moving to bring this case home. That should be scary enough for any Trump supporter, even if Meadows is not involved.
Averaged out since 2016, every single month has brought a 20% chance that Trump’s legal team would depart. This could be one of those months when the forecast for fleeing lawyers is considerably higher.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.