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Trump’s classified documents case faces legal jeopardy due to process crimes, warns ex-federal prosecutor.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Weighs in on Trump Indictment

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney John O’Connor has some interesting insights on the recent indictment of former President Donald Trump. While many are focused on the 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information,” O’Connor believes that the real legal peril for Trump lies in how he responded to requests to return those documents.

“Those 31 counts do not float my boat, I think they’re very much window dressing,” O’Connor said during a Monday interview with NTD’s “Capitol Report.”

According to the indictment (pdf), Trump is charged with 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information,” as well as several other counts related to withholding, concealing, and making false statements about documents. The indictment also alleges that Trump showed classified documents to other people on two separate occasions in 2021.

Is Possession of Classified Documents Illegal?

O’Connor argues that the mere possession of classified documents by an ex-president is not illegal, and should not be looked at as illegal. He points out that presidents have traditionally kept papers from their administration after leaving office, and that even with the Presidential Records Act, the president has some unspecified time within which to hand over the documents.

“So yes, it’s a very flimsy basis to say that there’s anything wrong with him possessing classified documents. I don’t buy it,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor also notes that President Joe Biden’s retention of classified documents is also concerning, as documents with classified markings were found at the Penn Biden Center in Washington D.C. and at Biden’s home in Delaware.

Process Crimes are “Devastating” to Trump

While O’Connor challenges the legal viability of the first 31 counts in the special counsel indictment, he believes that Counts 32 through 37 are “very strongly shown, and frankly, very devastating to the ex-president.”

The federal indictment alleges that in May of last year, federal officials issued a subpoena asking for Trump to turn over documents in his possession that bore classified markings. The indictment states that Trump spoke with an attorney who memorialized in their conversation that Trump did not want federal officials going through his records. Trump allegedly asked his attorneys whether it would be better if they simply denied having the requested documents and referenced how representatives of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had deleted thousands of emails from a private server she operated after the contents of that server were subpoenaed.

The indictment further states that on May 23, 2022, an attorney told Trump he would come by to review the documents in Trump’s possession on June 2, 2022. Between May 23 and June 2, Trump allegedly directed co-defendant Waltine Nauta to remove 64 boxes from a storage room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump allegedly spoke with Nauta by phone again on June 2 and Nauta subsequently moved 30 boxes of documents to a different location.


While the legal implications of the Trump indictment are still being debated, it’s clear that the former president is facing serious charges. O’Connor’s insights provide a unique perspective on the situation, and highlight the importance of how Trump responded to requests for documents.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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