Trump is not facing federal indictment because he took classified documents. He is facing federal indictment because he did not comply with lawful orders to return them, actively tried to hide them, appears to have destroyed or have been complicit in destroying some of them and may have illegally shared their content with unauthorized individuals.
These are not trifling charges. This is indeed a big deal. If proved, these allegations represent the most heinous abuse of office in U.S. presidential history.
We will likely learn many of the details Tuesday when the indictment is unsealed at Trump’s arraignment. I can wait, although DOJ has the right to release the information sooner if it so chooses.
Here’s what we know now. Trump is on tape admitting he removed and retained top-secret classified documents. He is on tape admitting that the documents had not been legally declassified as he publicly claimed. We also know that under the Espionage Act the question of whether the documents were classified or unclassified is irrelevant anyway.
We know Thursday’s federal indictment resulted from an exhaustive and legally conducted investigation that produced compelling evidence and established probable cause that Trump committed federal crimes. The conspiracy count suggests that others may have as well.
This is about the rule of law and the cornerstone principle that no one is above the law.
Sure, these charges have value to Trump’s political opponents. But there is nothing to suggest that the investigation and resulting indictment were politically motivated. Nothing. This was conducted “by the book.”
Should we simply have turned a blind eye to this mounting evidence?
This is not a “witch hunt,” or a “hoax” or “fake news.”
This is a sobering moment in American history whose resolution may determine the future course of our nation’s system and institutions.
Our loyalty should be to evidence and facts as they are determined and disclosed.