Legal experts watched as Donald Trump admitted his guilt over the stolen White House documents for the second night in a row.
In his Miami rally on Sunday, Trump mentioned “the very famous raid on Mar-a-Lago — the document-hoax case.”
Trump told the booing crowds that it “violated my Fourth Amendment rights,” which is false as the FBI had the warrant necessary to enter his property signed by a federal judge. The Fourth Amendment demands that any person’s property that is searched must be approved first. In Trump’s case, a federal judge in Florida signed off on the request.
“No other president has ever done this. Presidents leave. They take things. They take documents. They read them,” said Trump. “Nobody else has ever gone through this. This is a charade.”
Presidents, indeed all government workers, don’t take things and when they do, there’s generally a lawsuit involved where a court has to rule whether or not what they took was legal.
According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, “the Constitution (Article I, Section 9) prohibits anyone in the US Government from receiving a personal gift from a foreign head of state without the consent of Congress. Today, the handling of gifts from a foreign official to any Federal Government employee, including the President, is largely governed by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966 and further legislation passed in 1977.”
The way the system works is that “gifts” and documents pertaining to the administration are displayed in presidential libraries under the purview of the National Archives. Presidents are allowed to access their documents for up to 12 years after their presidencies for the purpose of writing books etc. They can work with the Archives to get access to those documents. So, if Trump wanted to see that information, he would call his person at the Archives and he could read them at the Archives or any secure facility that is set up anywhere in the country.
What Trump did that is different from every other president is that he skipped those steps and simply took everything with him, telling his aides “they’re mine.”
Hearing the audio of the speech in Miami, anchor and legal contributor Katie Phang called it “More and more admissions…”
“Here’s Trump apparently admitting to illegally taking top secret documents when he left the White House,” said CREW, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Legal Affairs Editor at Condé Nast, Luke Zaleski, characterized it like this: “So Trump stole state secrets and evidence of his crimes in a dual act of obstruction and espionage after committing obstruction and treason and abuse of power after taking office with criminal foreign interference he solicited/accepted after committing fraud and money-laundering?”
Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI counsel and prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller, said earlier this week that “Trump publicized the Mar-a-Lago search to boost his sagging Republican fortunes. He will do the same when he is indicted by DOJ and GA. That is why these prosecutors must build a bulletproof case and carefully lay out facts to convince the *sliver* of persuadable Rs of Trump guilt.”
The comments from Trump are similar to those made in Pennsylvania the previous evening. Stumping for Mehmet Oz, Trump explained, “I can’t even tell you what is on those planes. It might be top-secret, they might say, he violated a document. Every other President takes their documents. I’m the only one. I can’t have a document.”
National security lawyer Brad Moss encouraged Trump, “keep talking. Just keep talking.”