Hats In Hand, Trump Lawyers Plead A Very Weak Case To Special Counsel

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The two attorneys for Donald Trump who “wrote” the letter last month requesting a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland, James Trusty and John Rowley, were at the Department of Justice yesterday morning to try to convince prosecutors not to charge their client in the stolen classified documents case. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday morning that they met with Special Counsel Jack Smith is in charge of that, and other, Trump investigations for the DOJ.

It was bound to be an awkward meeting since the letter to Garland accused the DOJ of investigating Trump “in an outrageous and unlawful fashion.” It isn’t often that lawyers representing a client in a criminal matter begin their pre-indictment talks with prosecutors by accusing them of being the ones who broke the law.

The meeting between the Trump lawyers and prosecutors for the Office of the Special Counsel comes just two months after the federal grand jury looking into the stolen documents case heard testimony from a Trump aide who was present for the 2021 interview at Bedminster when Trump talked of having a top-secret document concerning plans for a U.S. attack on Iran. After the grand jury heard testimony from the unnamed Trump aide, a subpoena was issued for the top-secret Iran document as well as any other material in possession of the former president related to the Iran attack document, such as recordings or notes of the meeting at Bedminster.

Trump’s attorneys turned over some material to the special counsel in response to the subpoena but said that they could not find the top-secret document Trump claimed to have in his possession and was said to wave around during the interview with two ghost-writers for his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

It was the second time that lawyers for Donald Trump told the Department of Justice that they could not find certain top-secret documents that had been sought by a subpoena. The other time was in June 2022, when DOJ lawyers met at Mar-a-Lago with Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran, who turned over an envelope containing 38 top-secret documents along with an affidavit saying that the Trump lawyers couldn’t find any more classified documents than that.

An FBI search of Mar-a-Lago later that summer in August turned up over 100 classified documents the Trump attorneys, who had the run of Mar-a-Lago, couldn’t find. All of which was probably on the agenda of Monday morning’s meeting at the Office of the Special Counsel.

The FBI never sought, nor was there ever issued, a search warrant for Trump’s summer residence and office at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Defense attorneys have a phrase to describe the kind of meeting attended by Trump’s lawyers with Jack Smith’s prosecutors. They call it a hat-in-hand meeting. That’s the one where as a defense attorney you know because of stuff like missing classified documents and previous affidavits you have supplied to the DOJ that contained perjury that you have absolutely no chance of forestalling an indictment of your client, so you go hat-in-hand to those who have evidence of everything criminal your client has done and ask for leniency in the charges the prosecutors are contemplating.

Something along the lines of…you know our client, he’s always misplacing things and misremembering what happened with important documents, and we didn’t really intend to mislead you with the certification we gave you last year that we couldn’t find any more classified documents…

Maybe Trusty and Rowley were sitting there in an office at the Department of Justice shrugging their shoulders and saying, c’mon guys, how would you like to have this guy as a client! Can you give us a break?

Just imagine you’re a lawyer for a confessed criminal – yeah, I took the classified documents, because they’re mine! – and the prosecutors you’re sitting across from have followed every incriminating statement made by your client, and they have all the evidence that they had to get a search warrant to seize from your client’s club and from his own desk, and they have testimony from everyone at Mar-a-Lago from the security guys to the pool boy, and they have surveillance video tapes and audio tapes of your client bragging about having a top-secret national security document concerning an enemy of the United States.

Now try to come up with something that’s going to convince career prosecutors who have been doing this kind of thing for years that they’ve got it all wrong, that your client just accidentally took thousands of pages of government-owned documents from the White House by mistake, that he wasn’t really trying to trip them up when he got some half-wit judge in Florida to order the special master thing, that his lawyers, his other lawyers, didn’t really mean all that stuff they told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals about illegal searches and all the rest of it.

We’re not those guys! We’re the good guys!

Look! We’ve got our hats in our hands to prove it!

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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