Norman Eisen is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, former President Barack Obama's Ethics Officer, and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Served as special counsel on impeachment. 2019-2020. E. Danya Perry is a founding partner ofPerry Guha LLP and was formerly a federal attorney and chief investigator for New York State's Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergat currently serves as counsel toAmerican Democracy Attorney. The views in this commentary belong to the author. See opinionson CNN.
(CNN)Donald in Mar-a-Lago A search warrant executed at his former President Trump compound is the entirety of the investigation against him. It represents a dramatic change in a dramatic situation. We have long predicted that his legal dangers would deepen, but this puts an exclamation mark on his exposure. moving rapidly towards it.
However, I do know that on Monday morning a group of FBI agents executed a search warrant and conducted a thorough inspection of assets, including access to safes, according to Trump. increase. Documents, according to CNN sources. Trump responded with predictable fury, claiming that his home had been "sieged, raided and occupied," and said, "Nothing like thishas ever happenedto a President of the United States." I didn't," he claimed.
His last point is correct. But I've also never seen evidence of this kind of action by the president. CNN reports that the focus of the search warrant is on documents Trump has removed from the White House, including about 15 boxes of materials currently being recovered. It was reported thatthese materials contained classified documents.
There are serious penalties, including criminal penalties, for removing, damaging or destroying official government documents. The law treats improper handling of confidential documents even more severely. But even for unclassified documents, penalties for mishandling may includedisqualification from future federal public office (although this is a lengthy process). and Trump could object for multiple reasons: the president's constitutional entitlement).
As a former prosecutor and defense attorney, in order to conduct this court-ordered search, the government had to go through a rigorous process to establish the probable cause of the crime. I know Search warrant materials had to be approved by multiple senior levels of the FBI and DOJ. Given the target's profile, there is little doubt that Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and possibly Attorney General Merrick Garland were being briefed.
But that's not the end of the story. A district court judge or federal magistrate will independently review the supporting affidavits and find sufficient grounds to believe that the evidence, product, or means of acrime will be found on Trump's premises. I had to.
While the reported search warrant grounds relate to the deletion or mishandling of official documents, it does mean that these potential crimes are the only ones that prosecutors are focusing on. is not. Nor does it mean investigators must ignore other evidence that may influence other crimes. If they lawfully discover evidence, achievements, or tools of other crimes on the premises in accordance with the terms of the search warrant,those materials may also be seized and used inthe prosecution. .
Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot believed the evidence they had amassed could form the basis of Trump's criminal investigation. said that Commission Vice-Chair Liz Cheneysaid in a recent interview with CNN's Casey Hunt that if the Justice Department did not prosecute Trump he would be Regarding the role it played in the riotsand the decision that 'the facts and evidence are there' may call into question our ability to 'call ourselves the nation of law'. The commission released much of that evidence at his eight hearings.
In March, even before these hearings uncovered a mountain of new evidence, a federal judge ruled that Trump's possible attempt to block Joe's congressional accreditation was "likely. Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election is due to the former president defrauding the United States by sabotaging the legally elected president's electoral college and attempting to substitute his own fraudulent electoral college.
In fact, even before the documents were seized on Monday, Trump's lawyers were in contact with Justice Department officials, CNN Sourceshave discussed executive privilege claims.It is unlikely (if at all) that it is solely related to the mishandling or deletion of Trump's official documents. Instead, it shows a keen interest in issues like fraud conspiracies and fake electoral lists that lead to likely crimes of obstruction of Congress. It iscriticized by those who are disadvantaged relative to the pace of researchers. The selection committee rushed to present possible crimes, and Fulton County District Attorney Fanny Willis was similarly vigorous,convening a grand jury,at least 16 targeted letters,issued to the False ElectorsEvents in Mar-a-Lago have clearly pushed the AG to move aggressively.
He went full speed ahead, using the DOJ's powerful nationwide investigative tools, and neither a congressional committee nor the local district attorney had one at his fingertips.
As Garland recently stated,federal prosecutors are currently "engaging in the most extensive and most important investigation the Department of Justice has ever conducted. You must do this right."
His intentions are clear. Some thought he was moving slower than he expected, but he's clearly moving faster than we all expected. If you believe that, in the face of possible causes of crime, should be treated in the same way, Garland's new pace of investigation is very encouraging.