As we've advised many times on The BradCast, accountability takes a while. Particularly when you're talking about criminal accountability for a President of the United States for the first time ever. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
We're joined today, for the first time in several months, by perhaps the one person who may know nearly as much (and, in some cases, even more) about the many criminal cases against Donald Trump than the many prosecutors currently considering indictments against him for those crimes.
Longtime, independent national security and accountability journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel.net joins us for the full hour today. There is now just too much going on all at once in the various federal investigations being overseen by Special Counsel Jack Smith (not to mention the several criminal and civil probes underway in Georgia and New York), to fit into a single segment.
We dive into details with Wheeler on both the probe of Trump's hundreds of stolen, classified documents recovered by the FBI last year at Mar-a-Lago, and the ongoing investigation of the broad conspiracy surrounding the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol (and his many other attempts to steal the 2020 election.)
Among the many points and questions discussed with Wheeler on today's show...
ON SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH:
- Where is he? Literally. And why are there no known new photos or videos of him Special Counseling?
- And what, if anything, does his incredibly low profile tell us about the work that he is doing?
ON THE TRUMP STOLEN DOCUMENTS PROBE:
- What does this week's news that Smith is hoping to pierce the attorney-client privilege by invoking the crime-fraud exception to force federal grand jury testimony from Trump attorneys like Evan Corcoran actually mean? And, is it true, as the New York Times reported on Tuesday, that Smith's motion to do so is "an aggressive new dimension to the inquiry"?
- What exactly is the crime being investigated that Smith contends took place between Corcoran and Trump that would nullify the attorney-client privilege?
- What do we need to know about this past weekend's startling news that Team Trump has now turned over still more classified documents and that some of them were reportedly scanned onto a laptop computer (and thumb drive) said to belong to a Trump aide at his main fundraising PAC?
- Why weren't those documents found at Mar-a-Lago during the FBI's very thorough search last August?
- Should we be concerned that more classified documents are out in the wild after being digitized and shared with others?
- Where are the dozens of documents that were previously in the now-empty classified document folders recovered by the FBI last August? And, is Trump's claim that he kept empty classified document folders as trophy keepsakes even plausible?
- Does the discovery and quick return of a handful of classified and other Presidential records found by aides at the offices and residences of Joe Biden and Mike Pence make any difference in a potential decision to charge Trump for having stolen thousands of documents and then lying about them to federal officials?
ON THE JANUARY 6 CONSPIRACY PROBE:
- Mike Pence has now been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury investigating the January 6 attack. He says he will challenge the subpoena based on the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause that, he claims, prevents him --- as President of the Senate on January 6 --- from having to answer questions by the Executive Branch. That, after Pence previously refused to testify to the House J6 Committee on the basis of separation of powers and Executive privilege.
- Many are describing Pence's defense "novel", but Wheeler (and I) recall when the previous Republican Vice President, Dick Cheney, hoping to also have it both ways, attempted to play the exact same hand to avoid testifying to both the Legislative and Executive branches during the George W. Bush era.
- In any event, will Pence's ploy work? And, if so, will it prevent Smith from being able to bring indictments?
- How do the recent guilty verdicts for Seditious Conspiracy, in the trials of a number of rightwing Oath Keepers militia members (and the ongoing trial of racist Proud Boys members), affect potential indictments of the former President?
- Is it likely that the DoJ will simply take the "Al Capone tax evasion" route by charging Trump with a simpler crime, such as wire fraud, based on his fundraising scheme that raked in some $250 million after the 2020 election for an "official election defense fund" that didn't actually exist?
- And, by the way, can a former President --- with a 24/7 Secret Service detail and all of that --- actually be sent to prison in the event he ever actually is indicted, convicted and sentenced?
As you can tell, just a few things to discuss with Wheeler today. And, as usual, she offers a ton of important, smart and keenly-informed insight!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)