Opinions mixed on legitimacy of new indictment against Trump

Opinions mixed on legitimacy of new indictment against Trump

Opinions mixed on legitimacy of new indictment against Trump

People who know Donald Trump well are voicing the full spectrum of opinions on the validity of another indictment against the former chief executive.

Indictment unsealed

MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents. That’s according to an indictment unsealed Friday that also alleges that he described a Pentagon “plan of attack” and shared a classified map related to a military operation.

The indictment marks the Justice Department’s first official confirmation of a criminal case against Trump arising from the retention of hundreds of documents at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. Charged alongside Trump was Walt Nauta, a Trump aide who was seen on surveillance camera removing boxes at Mar-a-Lago.

The indictment accuses Trump of having improperly removed scores of boxes from the White House to take them to Mar-a-Lago, many of them containing classified information. (More details...)

Trump attorney Alina Habba and House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik say Thursday's announcement of a seven-count indictment is yet another example of the weaponization of government. Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, thinks this investigation is legitimate.

Jenna Ellis, a former Trump attorney, is withholding judgment.

Ellis, Jenna Ellis

"Justice takes a long time; the court process is not swift," says Ellis. "What we can expect from this particular indictment [is that] President Trump will make that appearance in the Miami federal court on Tuesday; and then we won't really hear a whole lot about this in terms of the next steps of the legal process just because court dates are so far out."

The indictment by a Florida grand jury is presently unsealed, but it's believed charges are related to the handling of classified documents (see above) at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump is scheduled to appear in a federal court Tuesday at 3 p.m. (Eastern).

According to The Washington Times, the Biden White House says it had no advance knowledge of the indictment and refused to weigh in on the case.

Deflecting attention away from Biden allegations?

More reaction ...

"This is a blatant attempt to silence the voice of a former president and political opponent …. This is not justice. It is nothing more than a witch hunt [by the Left] because they are scared that come 2024, they will lose to President Trump. The indictment of President Trump shows the lengths the Left will go to try to silence their political opposition's voices …. There appears to be a double standard in this country that will destroy our Republic if we are not careful."

Curtis Hill, former Indiana Attorney General
Project 21

"I think that for the majority, the optics are terrible if you're swinging at somebody during an election, and you don't have what we deem 'the goods.'"

Chris Cuomo, former CNN anchor

"If you are a person who grew up in a Third World country, you would recognize this kind of thing as something that happens in a not entirely free society."

Matt Taibbi, independent journalist
Twitter Files author

Trump proponents are quick to point out the timing of the indictment relative to other news Thursday, allegations that the sitting president and his son each received $5 million – possible bribery charges – for influence peddling with Ukrainian government and business officials. The alleged bribery took place when Joe Biden was vice president.

"What happens [is that] the big shiny Trump ball comes out [so] people don't look at Biden, they look at Trump," Habba said in an interview on Newsmax Thursday. "… I have faith in the American people, [and I know] that they're smarter than [the Biden people] think they are. We know what is what, and we know where this angle is coming from."

In media interviews, Congresswoman Stefanik made this observation:

Stefanik, Rep. Elise (R-New York) Stefanik

"The exact same day that the FBI is forced to turn over to Congress absolutely damning and credible allegations regarding Joe Biden's illegal, egregious and treasonous corruption, Joe Biden weaponizes his Department of Justice to indict Donald Trump. The American people are smart and understand that this is the epitome of the illegal and unprecedented weaponization of the federal government against Joe Biden's leading opponent, [former] President Donald J. Trump."

Timing of the news aside, Habba said previous handling of classified information by Democrats Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama has not come close to the same level of scrutiny.

"The reality of this sad state of affairs is it's just political. It's election interference. I would love to say that it's legal, but it's not. I'm his attorney, but I feel more like a politician these days because the reality of what we've been thrown into is a disgrace to the American Constitution, a disgrace to the American legal system and a serious need for housekeeping throughout the DOJ, the FBI, and the White House, frankly," Habba said.

Trump's former AG sees it differently

In spite of their differences, William Barr hasn't been quick to trash his former boss. In fact, Barr supported Trump after the indictment brought by a New York grand jury earlier this spring.

"This is an abomination. It's the epitome of prosecutorial power to bring a case that would not be brought against anyone else. You're going after the man, not the crime. The legal theory, frankly, is pathetically weak. The case is held together by paper clips and rubber bands. It's a lousy case," Barr said then.

He has a vastly different take on this new indictment.

"As the facts come out, I think over time people will see that this is not a case of the Department of Justice conducting a witch hunt. In fact, they approached this very delicately and with deference to the president – and this would've gone nowhere had the president just returned the documents," Barr said.

Barr then unloaded on Trump. "He jerked them around for a year and a half, and the question is, did he deceive them? And if there's evidence of that, I think people will start to see that this says more about Trump than it does the Department of Justice," said the former attorney general.

In Barr's estimation, this is a pattern of behavior Trump has shown many times before.

"He's so egotistical that he has this pension for conducting risky reckless acts to show that he can sort of get away with it," he stated. "It's part of asserting his ego, and he's done this repeatedly at the expense of all the people who depend on him to conduct the public's business in an honorable way."

Barr resigned as Trump's attorney general two days before Christmas in 2020 – less than a month before Biden would take the oath of office – under pressure from Trump after making comments that opposed Trump's claims of election fraud.