“I want my documents back!”

Donald Trump, this morning, 10-5-22, on Truth Social, a message to the National Archives.

There are a few areas in Trump’s legal motions and briefings submitted in Florida that Trump’s attorneys have steadfastly steered clear of in court submissions. Whereas Trump was on social media and in interviews suggesting that the FBI planted evidence and claiming that he declassified the documents, his attorneys never even suggested such “excuses” in a brief they signed. They know better. An attorney can and will be sanctioned for asserting matters or theories for which they have no basis. The other thing that Trump’s attorneys have never written is that Trump had possession of these documents. Despite the fact that Trump clearly did have possession of the files (See above – he wants them back), it’s never appeared in a legal filing. Admitting Trump had possession is, in effect, admitting to the crime.

But last night, in an attempt to get the SCOTUS to hear the appeal of the 11th Circuit’s decision, the attorneys made a mistake, probably in a rush and without attention to detail. They stated Trump had possession of the documents.

Lawrence O’Donnell pointed it out on his program:

“In their appeal today, the Trump lawyers still offered absolutely no reason why Donald Trump would be entitled to these documents and they made the mistake of using a word that they have not used before.

“In describing Donald Trump’s relationship to these documents, after saying in their Supreme Court appeal tonight, once again, that this case is, ‘essentially a document storage dispute,‘ the Trump lawyers, on page 30, went on to say the ‘government has sought to criminalize President Trump’s possession and management of his own personal and presidential records.”

“Possession of those records is a crime.”

It may seem taking legalese to the extreme by arguing Trump is “entitled to have them” is somehow different than admitting he had possession. It is not, especially in contemplation of possible criminal charges. A defendant hardly wants to admit to every element of the crime: Knowledge, Intent, and Commission of the Crime. “Possession” goes to the commission of the crime.

As O’Donnell went on to say:

“That is why Donald Trump’s lawyers have been avoiding that word, possession. But on page 30 of their filing to Clarence Thomas tonight, the Trump lawyers stepped in it.

“In every filing the Trump lawyers have made in this case, they have been trying to suggest that possession of the documents by the former president is perfectly legal without ever using the word possession. But tonight, they did,”

It goes without saying that the single last place that Trump’s attorneys would ever want to lose track of such an admission is in a request to the SCOTUS to hear their appeal.

When one has a client who “acts” guilty, it’s hard to dance around his messes. One must be vigilant not to “step in it.”

 

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