A stunning Washington Post report claims prosecutors at the U.S. Dept. of Justice believe Donald Trump took over 300 classified and top secret documents, and thousands of other documents and items – not for political or financial gain, but as “mementos,” and for his ego. While proving criminal intent is not required to achieve a successful prosecution, the Post reports it could be a factor in deciding whether or not DOJ may prosecute the former president.
“A review by agents and prosecutors found no discernible business interest in the Mar-a-Lago documents, people familiar with the matter said,” The Post explains. “Federal agents and prosecutors have come to believe former president Donald Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Investigators could find no pattern in what documents Trump removed from the White House, some say illegally, leading them to conclude he was not planning to sell them.
“FBI interviews with witnesses so far,” The Post adds, citing their sources, “also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell, or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.”
The Post also reports that the “analysis of Trump’s likely motive in allegedly keeping the documents is not, strictly speaking, an element of determining whether he or anyone around him committed a crime, or should be charged with one. Justice Department policy dictates that prosecutors file criminal charges in cases in which they believe a crime was committed and the evidence is strong enough to lead to a conviction that will hold up on appeal. But as a practical matter, motive is an important part of how prosecutors assess cases and decide whether to file criminal charges.”
Earlier Monday afternoon Politico reported on Trump’s latest in-court claim, that he deemed everything he took from the White House, including top secret and highly classified documents, both belonged to him and had been declassified, which is not possible. If it was declassified it could not belong to him, and if it belonged to him it could not have been classified.
Legal experts are criticizing the former president’s claims.