👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
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1/ The Justice Department charged Trump with 37 felony counts over his refusal to return classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, including 31 counts under the Espionage Act of “willful retention” of national defense information, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The 49-page indictment says that even after the federal grand jury in Miami issued a subpoena demanding the return of all documents, Trump resisted and instead suggested that his attorney should either lie to the FBI, “hide or destroy documents,” or just show the FBI some of the documents and “conceal his continued retention of classified documents.” The indictment also indicates that some of the documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago included “information regarding defense and weapons capabilities” of the U.S. and foreign countries, as well as U.S. nuclear programs. The classified documents, which “Trump was not authorized to possess or retain,” were allegedly stored “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room,” and their “unauthorized disclosure […] could put at risk the national security of the United States.” After unsealing the indictment against Trump, special counsel Jack Smith said: “We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone. Adhering to and applying the laws is what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more, nothing less.” Trump, meanwhile, confirmed the indictment on his personal social media site, writing: “The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.” It’s the first time a former president has faced federal charges. It’s the second time Trump has been indicted. Earlier this year, a grand jury in New York indicted Trump on state charges for falsifying business records related to the hush-money payment to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / Politico / Associated Press)
💡 What should I care? An indictment of a former U.S. president demonstrates that no individual is above the law, reinforcing the principles of justice, and accountability. It sets a precedent that leaders can face consequences for abuse of power, discourages future leaders from engaging in similar misconduct, and bolsters faith in the democratic system. Ultimately, an indictment serves to uphold the rule of law, safeguard democratic values, and ensure that even the highest office is subject to scrutiny and accountability.
2/ Trump acknowledged during a 2021 meeting that he had retained “secret” military information that he had not declassified. Trump told two people working on Mark Meadows’ autobiography who didn’t have security clearance at his golf club in Bedminster about a classified plan to attack an unnamed nation that was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official. “Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump said, according to a transcript in the indictment. “See as president I could have declassified it. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.” One of the unidentified writers responded: “Wow.” Trump then said the document was “classified,” and a woman in the room replied: “Now we have a problem.” (CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)
3/ Two of Trump’s top lawyers resigned. Jim Trusty and John Rowley didn’t explain why they had resigned, other than to say “this is a logical moment” to do so given his indictment and “we will no longer represent him on either the indicted case or the January 6 investigation.” (CNBC / Politico)
4/ A Trump aide was indicted on six federal criminal charges connected to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. The indictment says that Trump directed Walt Nauta to “move boxes of documents to conceal them from Trump’s attorney, the FBI and the grand jury.” The offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Nauta also helped pack the documents as Trump was leaving the White House. (Washington Post / Axios / NBC News / ABC News / NPR / Bloomberg)
5/ A federal judge in Florida who handled Trump’s previous dispute with the Justice Department over classified documents will – initially – oversee the new criminal case. Judge Aileen Cannon presided over last year’s legal battle between the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers over the classified documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. Cannon granted Trump’s request to temporarily block federal investigators from using documents with classified markings, appointing a “special master” to review all 11,000 documents. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, twice reversed her decisions. Trump appointed Cannon to the federal bench in 2020, meaning that she would be responsible for determining Trump’s sentence if he’s convicted. (ABC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico)
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