Saturday 27 August 2022
Washington – (BBC):
Starr’s declassification began with investigations into how former President Donald Trump handled classified documents and presidential records at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, USA. Even with all the efforts to soften the picture on this issue, the former president should be concerned about the parts that have emerged from it so far.
Everyone can now see the court documents the Justice Department relied on to issue a search warrant for Trump’s Florida home. At least part of those documents, though not the most exciting part, are publicly available.
The US Department of Justice, as expected, withheld large portions of these documents with the approval of the judge, who signed an unprecedented search warrant in the country’s history allowing FBI agents to search the home of former President Donald Trump.
However, this court document included a summary of relevant laws in the case, and described its work as a “criminal investigation into the improper transfer and storage of classified information in unauthorized locations as well as the concealment or illegal transfer of government records.”
The document later expanded on this last detail, when the government said it had reason to believe it might find evidence of obstruction of justice at Mar-a-Lago.
The court document also detailed the material the former president kept at the oceanfront golf club, which Trump had already turned over early last year, albeit after what the legal document described as repeated requests over more than six months.
The boxes contained a random set of newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, as well as 184 classified documents, including 25 classified as “top secret,” according to investigators.
The document indicated that there is reasonable evidence that leads the investigating authorities to believe that there are more secret documents in the premises of the former president’s resort, and that they are stored in an unsafe place.
This could be a source of concern for the government in light of foreign nationals being able to enter the Mar-a-Lago resort amid confirmation of recent reports that a Ukrainian national entered the former president’s home in May 2021 and Trump’s escorts met and took pictures with him and Senator Lindsey Graham on the golf courses.
This is a serious criminal investigation. It is not about some presidential memorabilia and memorabilia, but rather about the security of closely guarded US government secrets, including intelligence gathered by US intelligence agents, foreign surveillance records, and possibly also records of surveillance of US citizens with the consent of US courts
However, the case documents, the judicial document or other documents in the case file remain without any indication why the former president moved the allegedly sensitive documents from the White House, or why he was reluctant to hand over that material to the US. administration when he first requested him.
Why withhold so much from the judicial document?
The government did not allow the publication of about half of the 38-page judicial document, including entire pages in some cases. And Republicans have explained that the concealment of these parts is evidence that the Department of Justice does not have enough legal basis to ensure that it can proceed appropriately in it, and that there are uncomfortable details in this legal document that the Department prefers not to light of day
However, the Ministry of Justice cited the reasons why parts of the legal document are not published in a separate memorandum. The department said it had redacted from that document information about FBI agents and government witnesses who, if identified, could be subjected to “retaliation, intimidation, harassment and even threats to their personal safety.”
The government said that disclosing the identities of current witnesses could discourage people from providing information they have in any future investigations.
She added that some parts of the legal document have not been published so as not to give anyone who wants to obstruct the investigations a road map they can follow to achieve what they want.
The separate memo said the Justice Department feared that publishing too much information about investigations into this case would “provide a road map that could be used to disrupt the work of the Justice Department.”
It should be noted that the publication of such a judicial document, even with this version from which about half of the information has been deleted, is an unusual procedure. But in any case, this is also an unusual case.
What will happen later?
Justice Department investigators are returning to work behind closed doors as they continue to review documents previously turned over from the White House. Investigators also work with intelligence services to determine whether national security has been compromised. The investigators also indicated the possibility of contacting new witnesses.
But we may not hear anything new about that case until a decision is made on whether there are criminal charges of mishandling presidential records and classified material, or obstruction of justice.
Despite this, the legal battle over the search of former President Donald Trump’s residence in Florida, an unprecedented measure taken on August 8, has not ended.
A request filed by former US President Donald Trump as part of a lawsuit he recently filed to appoint an “independent judicial expert” to review materials seized from his residence and confiscated by the government is, is still pending, despite the investigating judge expressing doubts about the possibility of implementing this request.
This lawsuit may result in the investigation being temporarily suspended while the review is underway to ensure that no documents that should be protected under the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality of communications between them are seized.
Trump is also continuing his PR campaign against the US Department of Justice as investigations into the case continue. Trump has also described those investigations as a kind of campaign against dissenting political opinion, likening it to a medieval “witch hunt.” The former US president has greatly broadened the horizon of his lawsuit, claiming to challenge the constitutionality of the inspection of his own home (but he has not actually provided legal evidence in this regard).
He also claimed that this all comes as part of an effort to prevent him from continuing to work on national political matters, although there is no evidence that the government has taken any steps that would prevent Trump from touring the United States during which he holds policy rallies that fuel speculation. He may participate in the next presidential race.