Trump insists upon existence of 'exonerating' evidence not presented by special counsel to federal grand jury

June 14, 2023
Ben Marquis

Former President Donald Trump was arraigned on Tuesday in a federal courthouse in Miami, Florida following the criminal indictment issued against him last week in relation to his alleged mishandling and retention of government documents after leaving the White House in 2021.

Prior to his arrival for that hearing, though, Trump took to social media to both attack the special counsel prosecuting him as well as claim that "exonerating" evidence existed but was ignored or not presented to the federal grand jury, the Conservative Brief reported.

Trump calls Jack Smith a 'thug'

In a pair of Tuesday morning posts to his Truth Social account, former President Trump first leveled insults and accusations against Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was tasked by Attorney General Merrick Garland with overseeing multiple federal investigations into Trump.

"This is the Thug, over turned consistently and unanimously in big cases, that Biden and his CORRUPT Injustice Department stuck on me," Trump wrote of Smith. "He’s a Radical Right Lunatic and Trump Hater, as are all his friends and family, who probably 'planted' information in the 'boxes' given to them. They taint everything that they touch, including our Country, which is rapidly going to HELL!"


AP "fact check" suggests otherwise

According to an Associated Press "fact check" of those claims, which former President Trump has repeated in interviews and rallies, it is likely true that the grand jury was not told about the Presidential Records Act -- namely because that is not the particular federal statute under which he has been criminally charged.

Trump has instead been charged under the Espionage Act, but even if he had been charged under the PRA, per legal experts interviewed by the AP, that law doesn't really grant him the authority to retain any government records that he desires after leaving office and was instead implemented to establish a formal process for the National Archives and Records Administration to keep all such records created during a particular presidency.

As for the "Clinton socks case," that refers to a lawsuit filed in 2012 by Judicial Watch -- which lost the case -- that sought access to a series of taped interviews former President Bill Clinton had conducted with an author throughout his presidency for a book that was later written afterward.

Those taped interviews, which Judicial Watch asserted counted as presidential records, had been stored in Clinton's sock drawer for years, but a federal judge ruled that the tapes actually belonged to the author and weren't official government records, meaning Judicial Watch couldn't sue NARA to gain access to them.

Combined maximum sentences could result in centuries in prison and millions in fines

Meanwhile, with regard to the actual indictment against him, Axios reported that former President Trump has been hit with 37 felony counts, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information under a provision of the Espionage Act.

Additionally, Trump and an alleged co-conspirator named Walter Nauta have been charged with several counts related to obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators.

According to a Fox News breakdown of the charges, if Trump were to be convicted on every single count and given the maximum sentence for each one separately, he could face up to 400 years in prison and fines of up to $9.25 million for everything combined.

That includes up to 10 years in prison for each of the 31 Espionage Act counts, 20 years for conspiracy to obstruct justice, 20 years each for two counts of withholding documents or records, 20 years for concealing a document in a federal investigation, and five years each for a count of making false statements as well as a count of a "scheme to conceal" -- all 37 counts of which also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 each.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that Trump would be sentenced to serve the maximum time for each charge consecutively, but it is still quite likely that the 76-year-old former president could be sentenced to serve decades in prison which, at his age, effectively constitutes a life sentence for a dispute over document ownership.

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